‘Neurotica’ by DRAG [ALBUM]

drag_neurotica_albumRating: ★★★★★

Neurotica is the debut album by sleazy-punk band DRAG, made possible after securing funding on crowdsourcing website Kickstarter. Despite a change of drummer mid-way through recording, the band managed to release their nine song debut to Kickstarter fans at a launch party in Birmingham, mid-March. The official release date is May 5th. (more…)

‘The April Maze’

april_mazeRating: ★★★★★

Carefully coordinated harmonies lead the opening song of The April Maze’s debut UK album, the first to be released in the UK. The indie-folk sound that the pair produce is mesmerising in its entirety. A cleverly written, but simple, instrumental flows seamlessly underneath a beautiful layer of lyrics. (more…)

‘Human Conditions’ by Richard Ashcroft

richard_ashcroft_human_conditionsRating: ★★★★☆

Richard Ashcroft’s band, The Verve, were unknowingly sitting in an eleven year break, but it didn’t stop the front man heading his own solo work.

Human Conditions is Ashcrofts’  second solo album, following Alone With Everybody (2000), and was released in 2003. A sound that everyone seems to know opens the song, with a likeliness to Urban Hymns’s Bittersweet Symphony. Check The Meaning takes Ashcroft’s raw, wailing voice and burry’s it deep within a mix of repeating guitars and soft drums. The lyrical content seem to fill the gap in the middle of The Verve’s discography, completing the wider story. The song has become iconic in it’s own respect. (more…)


‘Ketevan’ by Katie Melua

Rating: ★★★★★

Katie Melua should be feeling very confident in her forthcoming sixth album, which is set for release on her birthday, 16th September. Eleven brand new songs fall on the new release by the blues singer songwriter who made her name with songs like Piece by Piece and Nine Million Bicycles. (more…)


‘Whole Heart’ by Lee Koch

Rating: ★★★★☆

Lee Koch presents this wonderful country album towards the end of August, and it’s one to look out for. While it isn’t the generic mainstream album that I often review, it breaks away on its own and offers a new light away from the otherwise monotonous music library. (more…)


‘The Traveller’s Song’ by Lizabett Russo

Rating: ★★★★☆

Three beautifully written songs form the debut EP from Lizabett Russo, who while incorporating a folk-pop style, tells a story of experiences, feelings and life.

With a soft vocal opening in Lose Your Colour, the EP kick starts with a pleasant mood that is gently backed by a band, who add a beat and some magical layers behind peaceful acoustic guitar and a warm folk influenced vocal.

The singer/songwriters debut continues into the title song, The Traveller’s Song, and was written on her first day in London – inspired by the confusion and disorientation of moving to such a vibrant city. The song feels more ‘electric’ than Lose Your Colour with an echoing clean guitar driving the song through into the slightly more heavier and fuller Tonight, which brings the three songs to a close.

Tonight feels a more darker song than the two previous, and with a definite beat delivers a solid drive, letting the EP take a natural build across its duration. An acoustic version is also available to listen to online, which reflects a similar magic, however the filled version on offer here works well in the sequence, ending the EP on a natural high.

You can listen to the full EP through the SoundCloud player below and you can read more about her on her website by clicking here.

Artist: Lizabett Russo
Release Name: The Travellers Song
Type: EP
Date: 2013
Purchase Link: http://lizabettrusso.bigcartel.com
Artist Info: http://lizabettrusso.wordpress.com

‘All The Little Lights’ by Passenger [ALBUM]

Rating: ★★★★☆

After reviewing the title single, All The Lights, I felt the need to bring you the rest of the beautifully produced album.

The album, which was released last year, takes a contemporary approach to folk-rock across twelve wonderful songs. Beginning with Things That Stop You Dreaming and Let Her Go, you are met with the outstanding compositions that Mike Rosenberg has written. Let Her Go, the chart successor of the album, appears second and demonstrates a level of genius in lyrical content and composition. It really is no surprise how it reached second in the UK Singles Chart and the top spot in fifteen others.

Staring at the Stars breaks between the famed Let Her Go and the titled song. With a banjo, a faster pace keeps your foot tapping through a fantastically written story. A clever use of brass instruments links in well with a subtle string accompaniment and adds a massive, but not overpowering layer, underneath the vocals.

All The Little Lights continues a softer theme from the earlier three and as I suggested in its own review, is the perfect song to introduce yourself to Passenger. It makes great use of instruments that together form a magical layer of sound that is performed underneath the ‘Ed Sheerany’ vocals that Passenger has.

The Wrong Direction is a lovely song to sing to with its mass of rhyming lyrics and feel good feeling that is a little more relaxed than other feel good songs about in the market. A contrasting Circles continues the story of the album in the sixth offering, with a slower start, it takes a little time before it kicks in and even then, it’s not a true kick. In a subtle way, the song builds up and before long, it’s filling up quite quickly. With easy lyrics taking the song into a nice chorus, it gives the album a soft break before a more harder hitting Keep On Walking, which starts the second half of the album with confidence.

Where a lot of albums begin to deteriorate after the first half is over, this gradually gives a little more. Pleasant drumming adds a direction to the song with a constant beat emphasised on snare. A piano takes the song to an end as Patient Love begins. As a weaker song to what comparable earlier, it is a belated ‘album filler’ that seems to have no effect on anything. Despite being a nice, ‘pretty’ song, it really isn’t the one that stands out. Life’s For The Living starts as if it would continue a theme from Circles and The Wrong Direction, however it appears as another filler, just hidden behind a faster pace and some more interesting lyrics. I am, however, proven wrong about a minute and a half in, where the song transforms into something much more. It’s a modest ballad with brass instruments that echoes around with some beautiful harmonies.

The song appears in front of Holes which is another great song on offer. With a definite pace and rhythm, it has power and a great feeling of success. Its feel good factor is met with the addition of a piano that performs single chords over an acoustic guitar and a similar drum pattern to Keep On Walking. The lyrics are beautifully written and in parts, explicit. A change in vocal texture also adds a sense of anger to the song. The song is easily a favourite and would have made a stronger ending than Feather On The Clyde.

The ending to the album feels slower than what it naturally feels it should be, failing to take up opportunity to expand into something extraordinary. As you expect it to end, a live version of I Hate is thrown in and its comical lyrics are heard over the top of laughter. You can watch a video below of Passenger performing the song in London for an idea of its explicitly funny performance that reflects on a cynical view of life.


Artist: Passenger
Release Name: All The Little Lights
Type: Album
Date: 2012, February 24th
Purchase Link: http://passengermusic.com/passenger-music/
Artist Info: http://passengermusic.com

‘Believe In Me’ by Bonnie Tyler

Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you temporarily put Bonnie’s appalling Eurovision performance to a side, Believe In Me is actually a really well written ballad. The singer, who is the voice behind Total Eclipse of the Heart in 1983 and It’s A Heartache in 1978, not only ruined the song in the European song contest, but released a full length version on her sixteenth studio album, Rocks and Honey.

The song begins with the typical four chord progression with some light strings to accompany it. Bonnie’s croaky voice takes shape almost instantly over a layer of gentle acoustic guitar and subtle bass notes echoing the four chords from the piano.

A nice ore-chorus makes a nice link into the chorus which is written with a huge amount of passion. The song was written by an American singer/songwriter and recorded in Nashville for Bonnie, which is a shame, but the lyrics really tell a story.

Believe In Me continues in a usual verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure and takes to a bridge section that breaks up the song before the evermore powerful ending chorus’ that finish the song.

Unfortunately, the poor live performance meant that the song charted #93 in the UK and finished 19th in the contest. Her mediocre performance has been described as ‘that embarrassing moment when your drunk gran grabs the microphone at a wedding and begins singing karaoke” by people who watched the show on television, as she didn’t meet her usual vocal standards and even appeared to be disorientated on stage.

The song could have expressed some more powerful vocal melodies, considering what astonishing work she has previously released, however it is understandable that after sixteen albums, she would want to take things a little easier. It does seem though that Eurovision may have shortened her career and shouldn’t, but sadly does overshadow her early successes.


Artist:  Bonnie Tyler
Release Name:  Believe In Me
Type:  Single
Date:  2013, March 14th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/album/rocks-and-honey/id616238410
Artist Info:  http://www.bonnietyler.com

‘Fates’ by Erik Mongrain

Rating: ★★★★★

Fates is the inspiring debut album by Erik Mongrain, which sees percussive guitar push the meaning of beauty far beyond anything else you’ll ever have listened to before.

The ten song album is built upon magically composed instrumental pieces that Erik performs, using the guitar for both its usual acoustic sounds and as a percussive instrument too – giving so much more of a texture than you’d imagine.

From songs like Fusions and Air Trap, which are the more harder-hitting songs on offer to the slower and more mellow Percussienfa and Geometrie D’une Erreur, you get a wide taste of mood and a large mix of varying sounds.

You will see in the video below that he performs with the guitar lying flat on his lap, allowing for the tapping sounds that are so prominent in his songs. If you haven’t listen to his work before, now is a good time to get acquainted with it as this is what music is all about.

Artist: Erik Mongrain
Release Name: Album
Type: Album
Date: 2006, December
Purchase Link:  http://www.erikmongrain.com/EN/store/
Artist Info:  http://www.erikmongrain.com/EN/

‘Tom The Drum’ by Palma Violets

Rating: ★★★★☆

With heavy influences to the classic Britpop scene, Palma Violets released Tom The Drum earlier this year from their debut album, titled 180. The English band, who sway into garage rock and psychedelia influences, were picked up by NME and brought into the limelight.

The song, Tom The Drum, has a guitar tone comparable to 60s rock with a rolling drum beat to accompany it. A classic vocal effect and dirty bass melody confirm the inspiration with similar tones to My Generation by The Who and other songs by The Yardbirds.

It is no wonder the band won NME’s ‘Best New Band’ award, as they demonstrate something new from something old in their sound. This song will take you back to 60s rock and even in todays world of electronically produced music, this song fills a massive gap without having to dig out your parent’s old vinyl from the attic.

It also must be appreciated in having the return of what actually made British music so great as it can appear that the decline in ‘true’ British rock bands, there is a decline in quality of new music.

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Artist: Palma Violets
Release Name:  Tom The Drum
Type:  Single
Date:  2013, February 25th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/180/id588984801?affId=1930871
Artist Info:  http://www.palmaviolets.co.uk

‘All The Little Lights’ by Passenger [SINGLE]

Rating: ★★★★☆

All The Little Lights is the free single from Passenger’s third studio album, titled after the song. The album from 2012 features a number of beautiful songs by the British singer/songwriter and if you want a taste of what the sounds like, then this is the perfect song to break into.

Mike Rosenberg names himself Passenger after his previous band and takes you on a journey in this song of magical sounds. The folk-rock inspiration is met with a contemporary theme similar to James Blunt and other similar artists.

The album also features the chart successor, Let Her Go, which on release reached the top spot in fifteen countries, including the UK Indie Charts, and even then coming second in the UK Singles Chart.

It must be said though, All The Little Things is a fantastic opener into Passenger who, despite his other successes, seems almost unheard of.


Artist: Passenger
Release Name: All The Little Lights
Type: Single
Date: 2012, February 24th
Purchase Link: http://passengermusic.com/passenger-music/
Artist Info: http://passengermusic.com

‘Spoons’ by Rudimental

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

A single is designed to be released before an album so that listeners can be persuaded that they need the full length release however Spoons, released before Rudimental’s debut album Home, should only do the opposite.

The boring and repetitive track, wasting an entire five and a half minutes sounds almost like a young music technology student messing about on his computer with sound loops and vocal effects. Despite the album itself scoring highly in the UK Album Charts, this single does more to sonically murder anyones ears than anything else released on the planet. Basic effects are used throughout and a two-tone backing track digs deep in your head.

In a world of computerised music, I’m sure this would score highly, however any musician or music lover in general, this is not something you want to be associated with.


Artist:  Rudimental
Release Name:  Spoons
Type:  Single
Date:  2012, February 20th
Purchase Link:  http://www.thestereoboutique.com/en/s/rudimental/
Artist Info:  http://www.rudimental.co.uk

‘The Resistance’ by Muse

Rating: ★★★★☆

2009 will always be a set year in music history; Michael Jackson’s death, Susan Boyle becoming an internet sensation and the complicated relationship between the Gallagher brothers somewhat ending Oasis. The year also marked the release of a number of high-profile albums, including This is War by 30 Seconds to Mars and No Line On The Horizon by U2, but one whose ‘iconic’ status can be questioned, is Muse’s The Resistance.

In what is the fifth studio album by the Devonshire lads, elements of classical music influences the songs and appears in some of them too, more notably at the end of United States of Eurasia and later in the final three Exogenesis tracks.

The opening of the album is Uprising, the lead single, and instantly you are taken by a new electronic sound that sounds somewhat familiar to what you’d expect to hear in the opening theme to Doctor Who. A dirty bass line drives the song into the title song, The Resistance. Once a ghostly intro is out of way, the song pushes forwards a strengthening verse and chorus that only demonstrates the best of Muse and what they have to offer. I’d argue that the two songs should have been swapped in their ordering, they begin a journey that the album takes you on, continuing with the second single, Undisclosed Desires.

In talking to NME Magazine, Matthew Bellamy explained that the albums inspiration lay with his girlfriend and he believed ‘people have had enough of geo-political stuff by the end of the album’, and the near-dancy track reflects this. You could also compare it to David Bowie’s earlier work with pulsing beats, syncopation and melodic vocal lines. United States of Eurasia takes its spot afterwards, putting back geo-politics back into the centre of Muses’ agenda. The songs builds into a climax of varying sounds, almost with a Western approach to Eastern European music before Queen-like vocals, which Brian May has expressed approval. In a flash however, the song has an outburst into the first direct piece of classical music in the hidden track titled ‘Collateral Damage’, to which Nocturne In E-Flat Major, Op.9 No.2, by Frédéric Chopin is performed with the added sounds of jet planes and children’s laughter. If it wasn’t for the political theme, you’d think you were at an airport.

Guiding Light lets the album down by giving out so much energy that it struggles to excite and build into anything further. Instead, it peacefully whittles down into Unnatural Selection – the heaviest song on offer out of the eleven. I personally think that this is one of the more natural songs on the album and a section in half time before suddenly impacting in the heavier ending confirms this. Unnatural Selection also stands ahead as the longest song on the album at nearly seven minutes, but its a great seven minutes to get your teeth into. MK Ultra follows with a similarly heavy theme and electronic sounds and is written predominantly about “brain washing and the psychological manipulation that has been going on in the world, behind closed doors and via the media during the 20th century”, says Matt.

I Belong To You has french influence and another classical take on the prog-rock scene which after on paper, and after listening to the album so far, should work – however doesn’t quite fulfil your expectations. A bass clarinet solo at the end feels somewhat out of place before the ending in Exogenesis.

The 40-person symphony is split into three parts; Overture, Cross-Polination and Redemption and reflect three different moods, in a similar but by far larger way than the one-track Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Overture is themed around the mood that civilisation will end, when Cross-Polination is the desperate hope of sending astronauts into space to find life. The dramatic story is furthered in its lyrics, which read;

Rise above the crowds, and wade through toxic clouds

Breach the outer sphere, the edge of all our fears

Rest with you, we are counting on you

It’s up to you

According to Matt, Regeneration is about  the moment “when the astronauts realize that it is just one big cycle, and recognize unless humanity can change it will happen all over again.”

Apart from a few minor points on the album, the release feels like it should have more of an impact which is just didn’t have. Instead, Muse then went onto release The 2nd Law and a song for the Olympics which wasn’t favoured amongst fans.


Artist:  Muse
Release Name:  The Resistance
Type:  Album
Date:  2009, September 11th
Purchase Link:  http://muse.mu/store.htm
Artist Info:  http://muse.mu

‘Fall At Your Feet’ by Saint Raymond

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Indie singer-songwriter, Callum Burrows, gave us Fall At Your Feet only days ago. Performing under his stage name, Saint Raymond, the song is performed with a mixture of other instruments in a layer below his mainstream guitar and vocals that offer nothing different to any other male singer-songwriter the industry has seen.

Actually, I take that back, as throughout the song there are glimpses of ‘arcade game’ sounds, or what sounds like that. If the song was called Pac Man, this would be worth the time to listen to, however the empty and boring song that this is, really does nothing constructive.

The song is part of Saint Raymond’s Escapade EP, which features three other songs titled; Everything She Wants, The River and Letting Go. The EP was released on iTunes earlier this week and continues a similar tone as Fall At Your Feet, with a few glimmers of pop, but nothing amazing.

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Artist:  Saint Raymond
Release Name:  Fall At Your Feet
Type:  Single
Date:  2013, May 27th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/fall-at-your-feet-single/id646326402
Artist Info:  N/A

‘Culture Vultures’ by Orson

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

After initially being leaked online two days early, Orson’s second and final album; Culture Vultures was released in 2007. It was made clear by the band that it would be the ‘rock album’ they wanted to produce as opposed to the pop sensation they actually released in Bright Idea, which reached top spot in the UK Charts after it was brought out only a year earlier.

Opening is Radio, kicking off the ‘new heavier album’ with the same pop sounds the band made themselves famous for only the year before with the likes of No Tomorrow and Downtown. If the repeating sound of their debut isn’t heavy enough, then you won’t be surprised by Ain’t No Party which follows. The one and only single from the album appears second in the playlist and like Radio, follows more of their original sounds than anything particularly heavier – not even in the slightest.

Broken Watch takes a step even further backwards before The Contortionist takes over with a sense of confusion over its direction. Both of these songs highlight explicitly that this is not a rock album and only confirms the feelers put out by the initial two songs.

Gorgeous takes over with a glimmer of hope of recuperating some of their lost reputation, however worsen things once more by inevitably taking their pop influences back. The song is no doubt their heaviest so far and has elements of the more sought after genre but really doesn’t live up to standards. Debbie’s Gone confirms this once again despite the addition of distortion. The timbre of performance is that of pop, there is no denying it at all. As you progress though the album, it becomes clear why it struggled in its performance and it comes as no surprise that it only sold eight thousand in its opening week, as opposed to then tens, if not thousands received by other albums of that time.

Where You Are Tonight comes across as the softer break in the album, providing a sense of originality and a discrete ballad in the middle. Yes, its built of the same materials that the other eleven songs are made of, but it does stick out as something different. Little Miss Lost & Found, like Broken Watch and The Contortionists, appears not to have any direction while Northern Girl heads back to the earlier Bright Idea influences of straight clean guitars and poppy harmonies. By this point, you begin to feel bored with what you’re listening to and Cool Cops doesn’t help, feeling much of a rewrite of the earlier songs over a different chord pattern. It does however boast some interesting and sinister melodies in the chorus and towards the ending.

Everybody is another song that follows the rewrite route, expressing nothing exciting bar some long winded, breathless harmonies in the verses that only distract you from the basis of the song itself. A chorus that doesn’t quite fit also features in Everybody, but soon enough, Get With The Programme kicks in. Pop couldn’t be more summed up by this album and I can only imagine this came to a huge disappointment to those who so desperately wanted it to be a rock record. Not even a bonus song, The Sound, can recoup any dignity for the album that tried so hard to be exciting.

It’s disappointing that Orson split up after such a terrible record, especially since their debut had become so successful so quickly. This isn’t an album that I’d recommend but I would totally suggest giving Bright Idea a listen.


Artist:  Orson
Release Name:  Culture Vultures
Type:  Album
Date:  2007, October 22nd
Purchase Link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Culture-Vultures-Orson/dp/B000UZDGB0
Artist Info:  N/A

‘Ghost Stories’ by Monks of Mellonwah

Rating: ★★★★☆

Following the success of their earlier released EP, Sky & The Dark Night, Monks of Mellonwah are well underway to release their next offering to the world.

The three song EP, out on the 29th June, features a brand new single which titles the release. Ghost Stories sets a new tone for the band in more contemporary rock than the indie sounds of the previous release that was only six weeks ago. It opens with clean guitar before a romantically complex drum pattern and effects take over. Vocals by Vikram Kaushik take shape across a set of cleverly written lyrics.

Ghost Stories is an exciting song itself, taking on from the moods left off from their previous work. What I enjoyed the most on their previous EP, is the continuation between songs which is something either the band haven’t done, or done badly but it doesn’t stop each individual song being the power-house that they are.

Vanity leads in with a heavy Muse influence before taking shape as what I’d label a ‘classic’ Monks of Mellonwah sound. Simple but effective guitars over elaborate drums take shape throughout before a dirty distortion kicks in. It is echoed in Sailing Stones too, which is more heavier than the first two songs but still satisfies your hunger. You’ll definitely like if you enjoy the likes of Muse and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Ghost Stories will be the bands fourth EP and production on their debut full-length is in action. After hearing only Sky & The Dark Night and Ghost Stories, I am definitely excited by the prospects of a full album and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Artist:  Monks of Mellonwah
Release Name:  Ghost Stories
Type:  EP
Date:  2013, June 28th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/monks-of-mellonwah/id444668180
Artist Info:  http://www.monksofmellonwah.com

‘Native’ by OneRepublic

Rating: ★★★☆☆

American rock band, OneRepublic, released their third studio album to the world towards the end of March and despite some of their previous work feeling very weak, the sounds in this newer album came to quite a surprise.

Counting Stars is an electrifying opening song that features a more universal sound – taking some folk ideas, contemporary sounds and merging them all together with their own individual sounds into a catchy piece of music. Its lyrics also take storytelling to a new level. This great start isn’t fully continued into their second song, If I Lose Myself as a more poppy sound makes the song more comparable to what immature boy bands produce than anything else. It does, however, have a nice dance influence and some nice melodies but the comparison made does ruin the song a little.

Up next, the first single takes its place. Feel Again has a slight indie take on its dance/rock themes but the sounds of pop sensations creeps in a little too much, and doesn’t quite fulfil the pace set by Counting Stars. What You Wanted almost bridges the worsening album to what it initially sounded like with its own clear direction and a more careful mix between the bands mainstream and original sounds. It has a nice synth melody that is highlighted in the chorus. There are also some echoing harmonies that help make the song stand out however like the previous two songs, this isn’t anything particular special.

A folk influence takes shape in the opening of I Lived as the more mellower song appears to take the album through a new direction. The songs chorus changes this and adds its poppy sound in a higher layer before calming down and giving the more natural sounds take over in the verse. Light It Up also downgrades the album in an attempt to make the multi-influence work but the parts of the chorus express powerful vocal melodies that are slightly hidden by an irritating drum pattern. Can’t Stop has a similarly irritating drum pattern and its chorus is song in a pitch so high only dogs can hear it. It’s not a song I’m particularly fond of and quickly moved onto Au Revior which was a pleasant surprise.

With strings and a more tranquil approach, a piano melody leads the way for the vocals which take their time to kick in. The softer voice makes sense and fits the delay from the start. Powerful vocals occasionally highlight and are joined by peaceful harmonies both vocally and from the orchestral sounds layered softly underneath. The song has a natural sense of build, only confirmed by an appropriate drumming that pushes the song further. It leads confidently into Burning Bridges, which is more alive than Au Revoir in the sense that its more full, but both just as exciting as each other.

Something I Need is an exciting love song that takes back the great storytelling that was occupied at the start of the album. The song gets you up and moving unlike any of the previous songs on offer which is appreciated after the album begins to die sooner. In Preacher, the mood is kept but misses opportunities that could develop the song into something more. Don’t Look Down also has the same problem, ending the album weakly after only a minute and a half. I’m not entirely sure what the aim of this last song is, but either way, the album was over more quickly than I realised.

There are glimmers of hope throughout the twelve songs but nothing really stands out after Counting Stars, apart from Au Revoir and Something I Need, which is disappointing from an album with as much potential as this.


Artist:  One Republic
Release Name:  Native
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, March 22nd
Purchase Link:  http://store.onerepublic.com/?utm_source=One+Republic+Website&utm_medium=Website+Link+to+Webstore&utm_term=NA&utm_content=Link+to+Webstore&utm_campaign=Link+to+Webstore
Artist Info:  http://onerepublic.com

‘I Need A Dollar’ by Aloe Blacc

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I Need A Dollar is the song that made Aloe Blacc his fame, and since its release in March 2010, has featured across television across the world. He has also performed it on shows such as the Graham Norton Show, Later…With Jools Holland and the US equivalent, Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. In its release, the song was the first single from his album, Good Things, and released an entire year before anything else.

The song begins with a repeating piano melody before a plucked bass and soul vocals begin. It becomes apparent that the piano isn’t going to change, but thats okay because the vocals are telling a story.

To break the song up from its similarly repetitive verses’ and choruses’, a bridge, or break, is placed a couple of times in the song to add some further texture to the simply produced song which tells more of a story the more you listen to it. The lyrics are cleverly written to flow, and sung to take advantage of it with the end result sounding fantastic.

A clever use of instruments takes simplicity further too, as basic trumpet melodies add a further enriching texture towards the end of the song while the piano and bass continue to repeat in a layer further down. In completion, the song feels fulfilling and finished, and despite its monotonous feel after a couple of listens, is a nice song to play to break a playlist up.


Artist:  Aloe Blacc
Release Name:  I Need A Dollar
Type:  Single
Date:  2010, March 16th
Purchase Link:  http://www.firebrandstore.com/aloe-blacc
Artist Info:  http://aloeblacc.com/#!tweets

‘Home’ by Gabrielle Aplin

Rating: ★★★★☆

In the most simplest of ways, Home takes you away on the sound of gently strummed guitars before Gabrielle Aplin’s softer voice begins singing. The single was released as iTunes’ single of the week in 2012, in a bid to promote new artists and featured heavily on BBC Radio.

The song is very clearly slow starting and arguably leading nowhere, but by hanging on, you will feel more in your mind as a result of the naturally composed song that Home is. A subtle layer of instruments builds underneath her voice, before backing her fully in the final chorus’.

While Gabrielle’s voice can seem a little stuffy and not as powerful as the song would maybe be more suited, her sound is unique and different to other female vocalists which is appreciated. A gentle male backing vocal in the lower parts of the mix adds a little more than texture too, as the lyrical content suggest a romance. This male harmony in the chorus adds more feeling into the song and the subtle addition makes a huge change to the mood of the song.

What is even more great about the song is on each listen, something new can be discovered which is rare in newly produced material. There is a wonderful range of instruments used in the song and together carry a beautiful message.


Artist:  Gabrielle Aplin
Release Name:  Home
Type:  Single
Date:  2012, January 19th
Purchase Link:  https://store.digitalstores.co.uk/gabrielleaplin/
Artist Info:  http://www.gabrielleaplin.co.uk

‘Wire to Wire’ by Razorlight

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Wire To Wire is the first single from Razorlight’s “final” album, Slipway Fires, before almost changing their entire line up. The song was released in October 2008, prior to the albums release in November.

Wire To Wire breaks away from the sound the band is famous for and the America guitars are replaced by a piano which performs a repeating chordal melody. The song discretely builds up with the addition of simple drums, woodwind, bass guitars and of course harmonised vocals.

Towards the end, the song seems to reach a climax that expresses a theme which could arguably be a sign of the bittersweet ending to the band that we know of. Despite the song being described as “slow burning”, it didn’t give enough to keep up with the bands previous works and Slipway Fires was their first album to not produce a top 3 single and only stayed in the UK Charts for seven weeks.

As a stand-alone song, it’s nice. It has a different feel to it depending on what mood you’re in.

However, in a playlist amongst other songs either by Razorlight or other bands, it feels lost and and undirectional. The piano can also feel a little too repetitive at times but the vocals boast some great harmonies.


Artist:  Razorlight
Release Name:  Wire to Wire
Type:  Single
Date:  2008, October 27th
Purchase Link:  http://www.bandstores.co.uk/shop/razorlight2/
Artist Info:  http://www.razorlight.co.uk

‘Hurricane’ by MS MR

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

After being initially released in 2012 on an EP, Hurricane is back with MS MR’s debut album; Secondhand Rapture. The song opens the new twelve-track album but its hard to be excited by this uninspiring single.

MS MR are a New York based duo made up of a vocalist and producer. Being in New York, the beautiful land where dreams are supposed to be made, you would think that the duo would be releasing something amazing that takes everyones breath away. Instead, what you are left with is an empty and uninteresting noise.

With some interesting lyrics, the vocal melodies have no room for expansion and the music layered underneath has no direction. The alternative song led to nowhere and missed out masses of opportunity to develop into the song it really could be.

Worse still, I wasn’t even aware it ended until other songs in my music library began to play – it was that slow going. This really isn’t something that I’m particularly thrilled by and I doubt anyone else would be. If this is what Secondhand Rapture is going to be like, I’m not sure if I’m going to even bother…


Artist:  MS MR
Release Name:  Hurricane
Type:  Single
Date:  2012
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/secondhand-rapture/id634310290?affId=1930871
Artist Info:  http://www.msmrsounds.com

‘Love, Lust, Faith & Dreams’ by 30 Seconds To Mars

Rating: ★★★★☆

The highly anticipated fourth album by 30 Seconds To Mars is finally here and instantly, you’re met with the bands new direction.

Opening in a similar fashion to This Is War, the bands previous album, a short intro’ piece is performed which leads into the first section, ‘Love’. Birth has a slight trance-rock approach which is reflected in bass heavy synth before Conquistador kicks in which almost acts as a bridge from This Is War.

Conquistador has a defining drum line and massive vocal harmonies similar to those found in the anthem of Kings and Queens which dominated the world on that previous album.

The third appearance is Up In The Air, which I reviewed not too long ago. It has a more synthy approach to any other 30 Seconds To Mars song but despite its group harmonies, only feels like its trying to recapture the feeling gained from their earlier work. On a whole, the song feels a little empty but after a couple of listens, you can begin to appreciate it. As part of the album, it feels well placed and continues the story through the four titling words – which are embedded within the album.

City of Angels takes over with a more reflective piano take and signs of electronica. The song acts as a break from the album and brings the album down to earth with a slight alternative take. It is a rather simple song for 30 Seconds To Mars, but its definitely welcoming. It is soon replaced by The Race and End of All Days which continues the alternative slant with the regaining trance from before. The two songs don’t express much excitement, but mark a mid-point for what is on the whole, an exciting album.

Pyres of Varanasi does no better either, as it kick starts the second half and more importantly, ‘Faith’. The first song under the new headline is Bright Lights which after a full filling intro, leads into another down to earth rock song. It is almost electronica in parts, but emphasises a dreamy world. It may have been more appropriate for it to be part of the last quarter of the album, under the ‘Dream’ mood, but either way, it’s a sensational song that gets your foot tapping to a constant kick drum that repeats throughout the simplicity of the music. Easy lyrics also float around in the song underneath a pleasant guitar riff that is somewhat addictive. Do or Die is another electrifying song that has a little more ‘give’ than Bright Lights and the two songs really work back to back.

Convergence is another interlude between sections, leading this time into ‘Dreams’. Out of all of them so far, this is the more chilled of interludes and features heavily of repetitive drumming and clean guitar riffs that allows you time to think and adjust. Dreams then kick starts with Northern Lights which feels much darker in theme than the previous songs on offer. Its dark instrumental ending finishes quickly but doesn’t quite fit with the beginning of Depuis Le Début, which concludes the album.

With a country tone, the last song takes time to kick in but the acoustic sound is replaced by bass heavy synth and tormenting strings. Its instrumental being builds up massively before cutting out to a musical box, giving a nightmarish thought to the ending that really sets on your mind.

Love, Lust, Faith & Drums is not classic 30 Seconds To Mars in the sense of This Is War, A Beautiful Lie and their self titled debut, but it is definitely 30 Seconds To Mars. The new sound takes a little time to get used to, however the wait is worth it as the story told in these twelve tracks is executed brilliantly.


Artist:  30 Seconds to Mars
Release Name:  Love, Lust, Faith & Dreams
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, May 17th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-lust-faith-+-dreams/id620572548
Artist Info:  http://www.thirtysecondstomars.com

‘Soma Holiday’ by Greenwheel

Rating: ★★★★☆

Greenwheel aren’t the most famous alternative rock band in the world, but in 2002, offered us Soma Holiday which shows some potential in reaching the bigger stage.

In a sound that is very much like The Calling, who were made famous by their hit ‘Wherever You Will Go’, Shelter begins and displays an exciting guitar tone over an equally brilliant drum line. The song was also notably used on the soundtrack to ‘The Fast And The Furious’ film in 2001. It continues into Sustain You with more drive and vocal melodies that are creeping into The Calling’s territory. The song is full of little gems and little guitar riffs that carries a ‘feel good’ feeling throughout before leading straight into the acoustic beginning Breathe.

Despite a more softer song starting so soon on the album, Breathe’s ballad-like approach with a stronger chorus helps it settle in. In Louder Than Words, I am reminded of the Foo Fighters in the intro’ with the guitar harmonies but the song is soon taken back to a slight British pop-rock sound in the verses in the drum and vocal melody. A chorus breaks back into the bands natural tone.

Strong expresses a heavier song and it is a beautifully complex drum pattern under a distorted bass line which drives this song more before the distorted guitars take it through the chorus. Drowning Man and Faces both share a common guitar lead and direction which I found a little repetitive going into Identity, but as album fillers, they work. Identity though is a much heavier song that is driven mainly by a distorted bass line that lies solid in the lower layers of the song. Its drive sets a tone for the song that is reflected in rougher vocals that touch on a slight grunge approach.

Disappear, you could argue, has elements of what you could call a modern-grunge but continues with similar tones that the band has expressed so far. There is some more touches of this in Dim Halo, which during the verses almost mimics the Calling by its vocal melody that leads into a half as exciting chorus. A repetitive tone which has appeared to carry itself through the previous songs is becoming too repetitive despite its nice appeal.

Radiance doesn’t make much sense to me and feels like the band may have been trying to force something new in their verses, however after reaching the chorus, they succeed. There is also a nice chordal pattern in between the first and second verse which made a nice break between the sung sections. The vocal melodies creep into ballad-territory, but miss the opportunity to fully expand and stick back to the same level as the beginning of the song. The song appears a little weak and only relies on harmonies and a quieter guitar riff to give some sort of effect. The end of the album is literally titled The End.

A crunchy guitar begins before calm drums and gentle harmonies. Unfortunately, the distorted but tranquil sound is ruined by what is now an average sounding vocal melody. It does however boast an impressive bass solo which was totally unexpected, before the song continues with the beautiful music it opened with. Unfortunately vocals continue and the song seems to disappear behind a struggling melody that can’t quite match the powerful instruments behind it, including a gentle guitar solo which takes shape in the final chorus.

If you enjoy listening to The Calling, then I’d recommend giving this album a listen through. It’s something a little different but comparable enough to make a seamless transition. On its own though, this is a strong album that didn’t get the backing it needed at its first release.


Artist:  Greenwheel
Release Name:  Soma Holiday
Type:  Album
Date:  2002, June 22nd
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/soma-holiday/id15507104
Artist Info:  N/A

‘Birthdays’ by Keaton Henson

Rating: ★★★★★

I’m guilty in the sense that it took me so long to discover Keaton Henson, but soon after I first listened through his debut self-released album, Dear, he was back again with Birthdays. The bedroom-recorded, modest and raw talent that was prominent in Dear returns once again. From the first footstep that opens the album, right through to when it closes, you’re taken on a heart-wrenching journey that is filled with beautiful, warm vocals.

Despite being recorded in California, Teach Me opens the album with a chilling electric guitar and anxious vocal that reflect on his troubled past in a similar sound to Dear, which he self-recorded in his bedroom. Its slow and reserved approach is also made more prominent by the songs deep lyrics and ghostly harmonies, which follow into 10am Gare du Nord and display a slight vibrato in his voice under guest vocals from Jesca Hoop.

You introduces string instruments that add a new texture to Keaton’s raw voice that keeps pushing the post-traumatic lyrics but it isn’t until Lying to You that the harmonies and experimental sounds reappear creating a wilderness of sound. Something changes at this point as The Best Today begins. It’s difficult to pick up at first, but the soft beat behind the song highlights his emotions are building up. A gentle but rolling bass line is explored too adding another new texture to the mix. While the song ends softly, it doesn’t prepare you for what is thrown at you next.

Don’t Swim begins in the same mysterious way as The Best Today, however while it may appear those emotions were calmed, they actually explode in a frenzy and the heavy outro reveals an even darker theme to the already troubled lyrics that you could only expect by Keaton. It’s followed in Kronos which thunders into action straight away and is almost devilish in nature. A rougher, more explicit vocal takes shape here too. The distorted guitar echoes out at the end leading into a banjo led Beekeeper.

In Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us, the bedroom feel is brought back in his fluttering voice – sounding a little towards Jeff Buckley and his iconic vibrato in Grace. Use of the French horn and martial drum give a little magic to the song before it fades out into the piano that is of In The Morning that reflects on his anxiety of large crowds. The beautifully composed song finishes softly before the footsteps that begin the album are ended as he leaves the room.

Birthdays takes you on an emotional journey, beginning soft and slow before the truly mesmerising action in The Best Today and Kronos. Keaton Henson’s modest and raw vocal is powerful against the reflective instrumentals that you hear throughout and demonstrates how an album can be written for the passion and when it is, the result will be sensational.


Artist:  Keaton Henson
Release Name:  Birthdays
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, February 22nd
Purchase Link:  http://keatonhenson.sandbag.uk.com/Store/DisplayItems.html
Artist Info:  http://www.keatonhenson.com

‘Holy Fire’ by Foals

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The third studio album by indie rock band, Foals, was finally released in February this year after the band teased fans from as early as October last year. In comparison to the bands previous two albums, Antidotes in 2008 and Total Life Forever in 2010, Holy Fire is themed darker and somewhat heavier. The songs are also a little longer as opposed to a lot of newer releases by other artists which may explain why this album feels more fuller.

A four minute prelude opens the album with soft synth and a gentle guitar builds it up. A bluesy rock guitar riff echoes over the top and by the end of the track, you feel that the album has begun. Inhalor takes stride as the first single and first ‘proper’ song and was released towards the end of 2012. The concentration on guitar layers is unmistakable as they thicken throughout the song. A distorted sound and pleasant drums take the song through to My Number which is also the second single.

The song was debuted on ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ before it had its radio play with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio One. It also has the pride of holding the Foals’ best charting performance (single) reaching #23 in the UK charts. The song stands out with a lower-end melody that contrasts to Yannis Philippakis’ distinct upper end vocals. Bad Habit continues the playlist with a sense of calm and tranquility, with a gentle rattling of the drums and simple vocal melodies. Its chorus lightens the song effortlessly creating an uplifting mood.

While its not continued into Everytime, this song puts a darker approach to the sound explored so far. While its verses give hope of a similarly constructive song as Bad Habit was, it is let down by a boring chorus that feels weak and just plain empty. There are some nice melodies in the song, but nothing really stands out and soon enough, the third single from the album appears.

Late Night was the poorest single in terms of chart performance, not even reaching the top 100 in the UK Singles Chart, but it doesn’t stop this from being a nice song. After slowly building, the song appears to evolve around a repeating lyric before a wasted outro leads into the second half of the album which after reading the critics’ response, wasn’t something I was looking forward to.

Out of the Woods is the first song to continue the playlist and already I knew what was meant by ‘its a one-sided album’ and ‘things plummeted badly in the second half’. I was instantly switched off from the album and a repetitive drone seemed to take effect in my mind. This state of nauseating annoyance continued in Milk and Black Spiders and Providence – although the latter does have glimmers of hope in between what might as well have been a different album entirely.

The album doesn’t sound like the same piece of music I was listening to at the beginning of the review and soon enough it was clear that things weren’t going back to the beautiful sounds in the first half. With hellish sounds towards the ending of Providence, I really had no idea where the album would head and sort of hoped it would only get darker as this mood was interesting to listen to.

Unfortunately, instead of recovering itself in a double-negative standard, the album dug a deeper hole in Stepson that while its lyrics were nice, its music was shambles. Finally the album begins to close off with Moon. In a slow starting and somewhat chilling intro, it appeared that the album may pick up after all however, for a one-leveled song with no direction, its nice, if that’s what you’re into.

If its an album of interesting sounds and ever-changing moods you’re after, then I’d recommend the first half as it is full of excellent music but it’s safe to say that the rest isn’t up to scratch and I am truly disappointed from it.


Artist:  Foals
Release Name:  Holy Fire
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, February 11th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/holy-fire/id573269843?wmgref=http%3A%2F%2Fholyfire.foals.co.uk%2F&affId=1930871
Artist Info:  http://holyfire.foals.co.uk

‘Headlines’ by The Saturdays

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

For manufactured pop, The Saturdays aren’t all that bad. Their extensive list of producers, engineers and session musicians have successfully transformed who would otherwise be five averagely boring singers into an exciting pop sensation who were able to release their first EP in 2010 after previously having two studio albums in 2008 and 2009.

Headlines is only classed as an EP because the original eight songs made the length too short to be classed as a full album despite there being the addition of four ‘bonus’ songs at the end.

It’s no surprise that with so many people-hours put into this that the music actually sounds, to an extent, desirable. I’m am disappointed by the lack or originality in the lyrics despite there being an uncountable number of writers across the playlist. However before I got too distracted by the political side of the industry, I figured it would make sense to work my way through the songs.

Missing You takes electropop together with some elements of trance and forms the basis of what the EPs sound is. While the vocal melodies are only made interesting by the overuse of effects, they don’t hide the darker themes within the lyrics. The robotic voices are carried through to Ego which, not only was the second single from the release, but also the last single from their album before, Wordshaker. With a faster pace than the opening song, it successfully moves the album forwards despite no change in lyrical content with the words taking a very similar theme to what this followed.

An unnecessarily irritating sound opens the third song. A ridiculous synth sound that doesn’t fit the vocal melodies opens Higher before its replaced by much needed harmonies and more appreciated chordal based melodies. A more acceptable version of the intro’ is then layered amongst the song in the following verse which is also accompanied by the boring computerised vocals that you’d expect from the girls. A second version of the song is added to the end of the playlist and features Flo Rida – giving the EP something to boast about, to some extent, as the varying vocal is the only thing to get excited about.

The lyric “and you keep on missing out the words” is also quite ironic too how most of those syllables are missed out too, but a more mellow Forever Is Over starts before I could moan too much. Forever Is Over is actually a pretty decent song in terms of composition and like Ego, was originally released under Wordshaker. The song was actually written by former Busted member, James Bourne, for Kelly Clarkson – a song that was even fought for by P!nk.

Died In Your Eyes may possibly be one of the most naturally boring songs ever written, with basic melodies that would send anyone to sleep. Without anything to stand it out from any other song on offer, it is drowned in desperation and repetitive lyrics that seem to never end. What reminded me of a classic gaming arcade began next in Karma which used heavy use of synth more unnecessary vocal effects – but listening closer to the lyrics, its apparent that actually the song is slightly stalkerish and somewhat creepy, with a touch of jealousy too. The only exciting part of the song is the slight harmony in the final chorus’ that you have to be paying attention to if you want to hear them.

Drawing the album to a near-close is Puppet, which follows all the ‘original’ sounds that have journeyed through the EP so far, adding a more trance/dance theme too and more boppy vocal too. It actually leads in nicely to the finale eighth song, One Shot which continues this trance sound a lot better than any other transition. A dance floor hit rises from the chorus which makes this song something briefly interesting before the bonus material is launched from Here Standing, Lose Control, Deeper and the second version of Higher which features Flo Rida.

Here Standing is a more realistic electropop song that features piano and makes the most sense logically as well as musically. The addition of a prominent real instrument is welcomed after the computers that have taken over the EP on a whole. Lose Control denies that for long though as the irritating synth sounds return to complete any started headache from the main part of the release. With no clear lyrical direction and some nice harmonies, it’s a fairly average pop song with some nice hooks thrown in. The album really finishes on Deeper which is a much softer song vocally and feels like it is struggled, or unnatural anyway.

While the album performed well enough for the top 5 in the UK Charts, it was never enough to reach top place as it only managed #3.


Artist: Monks of Mellonwah
Release Name:  Headlines!
Type:  EP
Date:  2010, August 13th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/headlines/id397209737
Artist Info:  http://thesaturdays.co.uk

‘Up In The Air’ by 30 Seconds To Mars

Rating: ★★★☆☆

For a song enjoyed by the crew members on the International Space Station, you’d have thought that the ironically titled band, 30 Seconds To Mars, would have chosen a better album art than the side shot of a zebra, but the band are more than back and are set to release their fourth studio album, Lust, Love, Faith and Dreams.

Up In The Air is the first single from the new release which was given full release back on the 19th March after its premier in space on the 4th.

What initially sounds like something Linkin Park might produce, the song is grabbed by typical 30 Seconds To Mars group vocals in the introduction in what is an attempt to recapture the moment in Kings and Queens from their previous album. Jared Leto begins his distinct vocals shortly after and the song appears to be more dance inspired as opposed to the heavier background the band is more known for.

The song is empty and to an extent, lost. At times it feels as if it leading somewhere epic, but nothing exciting really happens and instead you’re left wondering what just happened.

It is a similar move made by Linkin Park with Burn It Down last year, I’m not sure whether the new sound is working favours for the band but it will be down to the rest of the album to decide if its worth the change or not. If I’m being honest, I’d say that the song doesn’t carry as much prominence in comparison to the anthems the band is more known for producing.

The full album is due to be released on the 20th May.


Artist:  30 Seconds to Mars
Release Name:  Up In The Air
Type:  Single
Date:  2013, March 19th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/love-lust-faith-+-dreams/id620510996?affId=1930871&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Artist Info:  http://www.thirtysecondstomars.com

‘Exile’ by Hurts

Rating: ★★★★★

After a successful debut in the name of Happiness, Hurts came back earlier this year with their second album, Exile, which is full of the powerful synthpop sounds of the first.

A pulsing sensation and dirtily distorted guitar leads into the titling song. The distinct vocal of Theo Hutchcraft kicks in and amongst other instruments, the synth begins to bring the song alive before a prominent drum makes the move. The duos addictive sound hooks you completely before the almighty intro of Miracle. For what could theme a movie, it gets straight into where it’s going and you’re taken for a ride from the very beginning.

It leads nicely into Sandman, the first single from the album. Driven by a sinister melodies and a deep bass line, it goes further into the magical sounds that Hurts so easily create. The second single, Blind, directly follows and is a little more slower but just as deep and meaningful as you can expect. The song builds discretely into an ending layered with harmonies and gentle guitar riffs, leaving you full filled and craving more.

What follows is a slow starting, more dancey song by the duo. Only You is composed with the same themes as used so far, but is driven by a more dance-synth that you’d expect in the clubs of Ibiza. As in The Road, the song appears to begin wasted but transforms into the anthems that the duo so famously produce. In The Road, it is only until the chorus that you have to wait, as from then on its a bass-heavy, prominently synth driven song that sounds just plain awesome. It is matched evenly in Cupid, which has the instrumental you’d dream for but lacks depth in the vocal melody.

Mercy is a strange song too, while it is maybe the slowest to start, it has the ending that you so want from what is appearing to be a darkened album. It is explicit in its themes but one to love from what’s on offer. But the slow starts doesn’t end here, sadly, as The Crow is taking on the new style but painfully drags it out for the majority of the song before a lighthearted attempt of the Hurts’ sound towards the end. In comparison to the previous songs on offer, it is somewhat disappointing to listen to but on its own is a great ballad like another.

Somebody To Die For is a song most similar and comparable to what featured on Happiness, with a more flexible vocal melody and gentle use of piano. The break from the new and a glimpse into the past reflects into the darker theme on the newer album and adds more texture to the final composition. I also find that the song pulls the album back into solidarity after the somewhat poorer songs just experienced. In The Rope, a punchy bass kick sets you on edge as the synth and guitars build up beneath the lyrics before the chorus. Backward sounding piano change the tone before the bass is dropped and the song transforms into something extraordinary. With high energy, the song finally comes to a close and the album could have ended satisfactory here, but instead, goes one step further and concludes with more power.

You certainly don’t feel it in the beginning though, as single piano and vocals make it sound like the usual softer ballad that stereotypically finishes any album. However, it’s safe to say that Help isn’t. What is possibly the best song on offer is saved until the ending and is simply mind blowing. It’s soft and powerful and actually really deep. Admittedly it is cut a little shorter than what would have sounded more natural, but the ballad that it begins as is rearranged with strings and a group harmony which gives an almost heavily feel. Help is uncontrollably powerful and really marks a true end to any album and if it can’t get the hairs on your arms standing instantly, you’re not living.

This is without a doubt one of the best released albums from this year and sets a new expectation from Hurts and any future material which I am sure will be widely welcomed.


Artist:  Hurts
Release Name:  Exile
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, March 8th
Purchase Link:  http://www.myplaydirect.com/hurts
Artist Info:  http://www.informationhurts.com/gb/home

‘Run Boy Run’ by Woodkid

Rating: ★★★★☆

Run Boy Run is a single from the delayed The Golden Age album by Woodkid, released May last year after being prepared in 2011. The song worked its way to being Woodkid’s biggest hit as it appeared in Oadverts and in the trailer for Now You See Me. It also appeared in the MTV Movie Awards 2013.

Sinister  themes open the song with what sounds like church bells and echoing wind before a pacing drum beat to which the vocal joins. The thought of being chased during the night springs to mind quickly as the song develops before breaking into a chorus led by vocals and string instruments which is later joined by the returning drums.

The strings build up beneath the drums and vocals, adding the textures usually taken by guitars and bass instruments. The strings add some romance to the nightmarish drums that are constantly beat throughout. They take the song through to the ending adding more and more romance and really exploiting soothing and lively string melodies before coming to a sudden ending that feels very premature.

It feels quite a heavy song considering the small number of instruments and composition but if its 3:33 length was improved, it would be an epic soundtrack worth keeping.


Artist:  Woodkid
Release Name:  Run Boy Run
Type:  Single
Date:  2012, May 21st
Purchase Link:  N/A
Artist Info:  N/A

‘A Boy Named Goo’ by Goo Goo Dolls

Rating: ★★★★☆

A Boy Named Go is the fifth studio album by American rock band Goo Goo Dolls and is one with high energy and excitement. The album, from 1995, never hit the charts this side of the pond where it maybe should have.

With strong openers in Long Way Down, Burnin’ Up and Naked, a true American rock sound is made prominent and draws you closer to the exciting tones you can naturally feel from the band.

After picking up this album in a rediscovery of my own, I was reminded by these few tracks how much I love the typical rock sound that the band offers so well. It continues into Flat Top which despite being a little slower, echoes a slight alternative take which works extremely well against the other songs on offer.

A more mellow, acoustic song appears shortly after in the form of Name. It’s a lot more powerful than you first realise but it was this song, the third single from this album, that made the band their name. It topped the US Modern Rock chart and reached #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 after its release in September 1995. Beautiful vocal melodies lie above a soft guitar – whose sound is only accomplished by an alternate tuning possible after replacing the B string with a second high E.

It is closely followed by the bands more usual sounds in Only One and a less exciting Somethin’ Bad. This particular song feels like there is far too much effort for something which really isn’t that spectacular. It’s an average rock song I guess but continues the flow of the album pretty well into what is a nicer sounding Ain’t That Unsual which seems to sound more finished than that before. The song also features some interesting solos and harmonies which lack in other bands that carry a similar sound. In So Long, a more poppy take is put forward and the mainstream sound lacks some clarity and definition. Similarly to Somethin’ Bad, it would be of preference to have left both of these out but they work well as album fillers. If typical song titles are to go by, Eyes Wide Open should disappoint me but despite its generic name, the song is a clear cut rock song with a quick chord progression and a fitting solo.

Drawing the album to a close is Disconnected, a song with some unclear lyrical direction but nice guitar tone. Its ending is fast and full, making what would be a great ending to the album completely but instead an upbeat and busier Slave Girl makes the cut. The more grittier vocals and dirtier sounding guitars make this that little bit more old-school against the bands previous releases. The song is, unfortunately, fairly short and feels over before it really begins. With perhaps a little more time, the album would end more confidently but what you have works and works well enough.


Artist:  Goo Goo Dolls
Release Name:  A Boy Names Goo
Type:  Album
Date:  1995, March 14th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/a-boy-named-goo/id217475548
Artist Info:  http://www.googoodolls.com

‘Violet Hill’ by Coldplay

Rating: ★★★★☆

Violet Hill is the first single from Coldplays fourth studio album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. Offered for free, the single was important in setting the tone for the ’08 release and puts out a strong image.

A mysterious introduction with just Chris Martin, it appears as if the song may repeat the sound that Coldplay have been famed for but instead a distorted guitar changes that and a more solid, heavier Coldplay sound is born.

The single, which only managed to reach #8 in the UK Charts, continues with excitement as it discretely builds up amongst layers of guitar and drums under the repeating chords on piano taken through from the start. By the end of the second chorus an expected, simple but effective guitar solo is freed before another chorus and well, while the song has a normal structure, it feels alive.

All of the texture you hear in this one song, almost takes you on a journey as to what you’ll find on the actual album as all the bands sounds are explored. I really enjoyed listening to song when it came out and it became one of my favourites to listen to at that time but after a short period, it was no longer special and the effect went. Saying that however, it is still a great song on the one-off and shows the best of the band.


Artist:  Coldplay
Release Name:  Violet Hill
Type:  Single
Date:  2008, May 9th
Purchase Link:  http://coldplay.fanfire.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Store.woa/wa/artist?sourceCode=COLWEBUKWGBP&categoryName=Recordings&artistName=Coldplay
Artist Info:  http://coldplay.com 

‘Smart Casual’ by Kids In Glass Houses

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The debut album by Kids In Glass Houses came out in mid 2008 following the success of their EP from ’06. It opens on Fisticuffs with a punk/rock feel, similar to that from You Me At Six‘ Hold Me Down album from 2010. It is a nice song to open with, nothing special, but sets the sound for the album pretty much straight away.

What comes up next, however, is what I feel is a real ‘summer song’. Easy Tiger has a feel good feeling attached to it, grabbing you to sing along in the chorus to the harmonies that are all so addictive. The song isn’t in your face either, with most of the work being performed in your own head as you let your imagination take you for a ride.

It discretely builds up before ending suddenly, which leads nicely into the guitar that opens Give Me What I Want. For a rocks song, it is very poppy with clean cut guitars and simple lyrics that you could imagine teenage girls singing along to non-stop but despite its mainstream sound, its actually a really nice and catchy song to enjoy. It’s the same for Saturday, which follows, however this fourth song is something a little more. It has a short and sweet first chorus which breaks away from the same clear cut verses of the song before, with some slight rougher vocals.

“Consider yourself one of my best friends, consider yourself one of my enemies.
Show a little skin and make a million, bare a little soul you’ll make a million more.”

As I work my way through this album, it becomes apparent that each song is a rewrite of the one before, as Lovely Bones continues the exact same sound from that of a Saturday, Give Me What I Want and the few before. This particular song has a few nice guitar licks and new drum fills, but ultimately the album is becoming less of a collection of songs and more of a dragged out plea for votes. There’s nothing special in Shameless too, apart from the odd cowbell in the chorus – which actually, breaks down a little more than the previous numbers. It really feels like you hear one song, you’ve heard them all.

Girls comes up next, a slightly more poppy song with awfully stereotypical playing techniques int he verses that really don’t stand out. Apart from a nice chorus that is somewhat catchy, there’s not a lot that there is to like about this song, or to like more than anything else on the album as once again, it’s pretty much exactly the same as the song before.

Another rewrite appears next in Good Boys Gone Bad, in the sense that despite a promising intro, just disappears amongst the rest of the album. The same sound has got out of hand and somewhat annoying to listen to but you’ll have to wait for Pillow Talk for any sign of change. The ninth song however, Dance All Night, still carries that same repetitive sound, but at least begins to show some different direction than any of the songs before. The chorus becomes a repeat of any other, but the verses make a nice change, I guess.

Pillow Talk really is a chilled out song in comparison to anything else on offer here, being predominantly guitar and vocals with minimal drums. If performed more acoustically, would have perhaps made a better break from the main sound you hear but the clean approach is nice. The song has a soft bridge which seemed to appear from nowhere but somehow reminds me of a ‘pretty boy band’ song rather than something I’d expect from Kids In Glass Houses.

Back to reality now in Raise Hell, which could continue from Dance All Night – both with similar sounding verses and choruses and well, you could nearly get away with only changing the words. And even then the vocal melodies are pretty close too. Even in Church Tongue, the final song, things don’t change. I had expected something more exciting or more mellow, but no. The entire album, excluding Pillow Talk, has been set horribly on one level. While it is ‘nice’ to listen to, its nothing special and you certainly couldn’t listen to anymore of it.

I had been looking forward to reviewing this album for a while but after listening to it ‘properly’, it’s disappointed me. While I enjoy Easy Tiger and Saturday, the others all seem to become one song and that ruins it.


Artist:  Kids In Glass Houses
Release Name:  Smart Casual
Type:  Album
Date:  2008, May 26th
Purchase Link:  http://kidsinglasshouses.com/music/
Artist Info:  http://kidsinglasshouses.com

‘Stars of CCTV’ by Hard-Fi

Rating: ★★★★★

Hard-Fi kicked off their career with the release of Stars of CCTV in 2005 and after getting into a pickle with the charts, the album finally reached top spot.

The debut single, Cash Machine, was released by the indie rock band in January however the inclusion of a free sticker meant that it was ineligible for the singles chart and so it was re-released in December that year where it reached #14. The song is a confident start for the band with some interesting sounds that pin point what their fans are to expect for the rest of the release, and indeed, their following two too.

What makes Cash Machine so strong are both the prominent lyrics which are relatable and the great music layered underneath. While there are usual guitars, drums and bass-lines that you could expect in any mainstream rock band, Hard-Fi seem to have captured their own sound instantly with a distinct twist to how they perform on the album. Middle Eastern Holiday has slightly more distorted guitars and predominantly driven by a faster drum beat and a running bass. The song feels busy, but thats understandable when you realise its written about the culture of young adults going to war. The band’s anti-war views are in place as they question the political system within the song but despite its meaning, the song feels somewhat overcrowded. It does however lead in nicely to Tied Up Too Tight.

The second single from the album reflected on the success of Cash Machine and reached only one place below, while also being labelled the ‘single of the week’ by NME, Time Out and Lane Lowe on BBC Radio One. Similarly to Middle Eastern Holiday, the song has a deep meaning in needing to get out of your hometown to head to London ‘where the lights are brighter’ and ‘the girls are prettier’, says Richard Archer, the bands frontman.

“Where I come from is pretty grey, boring and depressing if you’re not into the usual run-of-the-mill sorts of things. It could be about any satellite town and how you don’t really feel as if you fit in there. So it’s about getting out and driving to London, seeing the bright lights and the people dressing cooler and being cooler. It’s basically a going-out song.”

The theme is echoed a little throughout the album, but first is Gotta Reason – a repetitive and desperate song that doesn’t seem to have much direction. There’s a repeating riff bounced between the bass and guitars and the vocal melodies aren’t anything exciting. You can call it a ‘filler song’ but that’s as far as it goes. Skipping it takes you straight through to what is one of my favourites on the album, Hard To Beat.

The third single is one of the strongest songs on offer and its proven by being the bands first top 10 song, reaching #9. It was also reported to be the bands favourite song to perform live and its not hard to imagine why. It’s a fun song to listen to and has a real energetic rhythm to it too. It’s exactly the same in Unnecessary Trouble too which opens with harmonies and music you could easily get excited by. Despite its slow starting, it does more than build up to the end and leaves you asking for more everything.

Taking a break on the album is Move On Now, a softer ballad that expresses the usual relationship breakup lyrics. A light and simple piano melody and a softer voice make it a nice break to the other songs on offer and discretely, the song introduces other instruments to make it feel more fuller.

hard_fi_better_do_betterLike other Hard-Fi songs, another slow starter will begin after the ballad closes to an end in the sense of Better Do Better. It’s in your face from the start but only in the chorus are you hit with the impact and its an impact well worth it. Casual use of trumpets and like brass instruments add more texture to the piece hiding the post-breakup lyrics. When the song was released as the fourth single, the cover art was an image taken of an old Nokia mobile with the option to erase a contact – portraying the breakup again in a different perspective that the song picks up on sometimes.

Feltham Is Singing Out follows and takes a similar sound as to Middle Eastern Holiday in the sense that it feels busy and perhaps rushed. If, however, this is the worst the bands sound is going to get, it’s not a terrible bad and given time could be a grower. Just, not right now.

Then you know where you are.

I say that like you got lost somewhere, and to some extent you have been in Feltham Is Singing Out, however leading in afterwards is the synth that turns the album around.

You will have heard it somewhere before as its been on far too many television programmes and plastered pretty much everywhere. Living For The Weekend is seen by many as the anthem song for Hard-Fi, and as it says in the title, is all about getting through a week of work for the weekend. While it only reached #15 in the charts, it is possibly the best written and best performed song by Hard-Fi and the riff is an instant hook.

Concluding the album is the titling song, Stars of CCTV. After the epic soundtrack that Living For The Weekend is, this feels a little bit of a let down – but compared to the earlier songs, it fits the bill great. I really think that Living For The Weekend should be the concluding song on this album as it has such a powerful ending that Stars of CCTV lacks. On a whole, this is a strong debut album that should be included in anyones collection of iconic albums.


Artist:  Hard-Fi
Release Name:  Stars of CCTV
Type:  Album
Date:  2005, July 4th
Purchase Link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stars-CCTV-Hard-Fi/dp/B0009OU2M8
Artist Info:  http://www.hard-fi.com

‘Mira’ by Silvertortoise

Rating: ★★★★★

I will always remember the moment when I first discovered Silvertortoise. It all goes back a few months ago to a pub in central London at a night ran by local promoter called Chaos Theory. Up on stage was a guy who literally improvised on stage from the first note until the piece of music he was instantaneously composing drew to a close. He mentioned after his set that sometimes, he would have to keep a clock on stage with him so he didn’t run over.

It’s just incredible.

Some of those improvisations have stuck out more than others, and that happens. While usually, bands would only perform the best of their improv’s, Silvertortoise instead have it all live and open. It’s a risk well paid off in the form of his debut album, Mira.

The fourteen track release from 2010 has some of his more stand alone songs, including Transcendence which opens it. You can listen to it being performed just below.

Each songs takes inspiration from Ludovico Einaudi and Yann Tiersen and have each begin as improvisations.

“I never know what will come when I sit at the piano. It is always a surprise.”

The entire range of notes is explored by Silvertortoise, offering a huge range of moods and surprises. The element of surprise is an understatement and the lack of direction adds to the exploration in his music. Dynamic changes and different textures also flood the album which also includes anthems like Ab Intra, Phoenix, Love and Follow before concluding with the titling song, Cielo Que Mira.

While classical piano isn’t for everyone, any musician should appreciate the improvisation and find inspiration from this album and what is has to offer. For anyone interested in knowing more, you can visit his website or alternatively, you can download the album on iTunes.

Artist:  Silver Tortoise
Release Name:  Mira
Type:  Album
Date:  N/A
Purchase Link:  http://www.silvertortoisemusic.com/store/
Artist Info:  http://www.silvertortoisemusic.com

‘Cut The Rope’ by Flatline Stereo

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Since forming in 2010, Flatline Stereo have written and recorded song after song for their welcoming fans – all entirely self funded. After releasing their debut EP, ‘Dressed Up To Tumble Down’ and their first full length album, ‘Rock n’ Roll, Punk & Soul’, the band have set up foundations for their future sound in the form of Cut The Rope.

Released February this year, ahead of the bands latest EP under the same name which came out last month, Cut The Rope was the entry song for Kerrang! Radio’s Big Audition 2013 competition. While only being judged as runners up, they beat thousands of other bands to getting airplay across the Kerrang! wavelength and are set to make an impact.

Kick starting the song are guitars and drums in a simple four bar intro that extends with an interesting guitar riff before the verses begin. What became apparent first was an over-excessive use of unnecessary drum fills that take away from the flow of the song a little. In the chorus, a standard chord progression can be heard but lying over the top are meaningful lyrics sung with a rough voice with clear harmonies.

“Cut the rope, before it hangs us both.

Cut the rope, yeah I’m not going out alone…”

What also puts my cautions to one side are the varying levels within the song, with the verses are stripped back from the chorus which is naturally going for more impact. There is also a decent bridge section towards the end of the song which could have been made a little longer before going into another chorus which by this time, “Cut The Rope” is certainly stuck in your head.

In my thoughts, I’m not surprised that the band didn’t win the top place in the competition as they don’t offer anything special in their sound, however the song is justifiably good enough to reach the position they did. If you’d like to hear the song yourself, or to even check out their other songs, you can find their Bandcamp profile here.


Artist:  Flatline Stereo
Release Name:  Cut The Rope
Type:  EP
Date:  2013, April 30th
Purchase Link:  http://flatlinestereo.bandcamp.com/track/cut-the-rope
Artist Info:  http://flatlinestereo.bandcamp.com


Rating: ★★★★☆

It isn’t often that the world is faced with a new reggae/ska band, but this four piece from Wales has filled a gap. With traditional reggae beats and a touch of rock n’ roll, this self-titled EP has everything you need for your next dose of offbeat rhythms with the thrills of a modern band.

The opening riff in Where You Gone sounds as if it would come off a classic rock album but with the distinct skat guitar sounds of the Jamaican genre it is transformed into a weird but wonderful piece of music. A clean, repetitive riff becomes distorted with ease adding that ska approach – something that appears to work really well for the song. Wrong Side of Town, which follows a more rockabilly approach with a rolling bass and more typical rock n’ roll vocals.

Despite being short in length, the song is exciting and great in reminiscing the roots of music and where it once stood. What comes up next is a darkened reggae song with haunting themes behind the classic offbeat guitars in Let Yourself Go. A more cheerier Shoot You Down is led in by a strummed opener but the offbeat reggae guitars continue throughout with that modern approach which makes this band something extraordinary.

The six song EP continues with Nothing Good, a more alternative take on the main sounds heard so far before transforming into a classic, upbeat, reggae song with the typical rocky riffs that are picked up within ska. Raw vocals that sound like a cross between Kelly Jones and Noel Gallagher are repeated throughout all six songs and while on paper sounds like a terrible drunken mistake, actually works for the band who pull it off. The release finishes with a calm and gentle Walking Home Alone with humble vocals and soft guitar riffs.

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, you find their Bandcamp profile here.


Artist:  Sundance
Release Name:  Sundance
Type:  EP
Date:  N/A
Purchase Link:  http://www.reverbnation.com/sundancereggae
Artist Info:  http://www.reverbnation.com/sundancereggae

‘Neurotica’ by DRAG [SINGLE]

Rating: ★★★★☆

Its an exciting time for fans of sleazy-punk band DRAG, as they are set to release two new energetic singles next month. By dropping the fear of being too cautious in lyrical content, what you get are songs that explicitly speak out on common issues that other bands just wouldn’t dare to touch.

DRAGs determination to hit bigger platforms is extraordinary and is heard throughout the first of their singles, Neurotica, which will be released on the 18th May this year.

Neurotica, which is discretely played by their new bassist Matthew Parkin in the background of a ‘behind the scenes’ video online, full fills all expectations from their previously released Homemade Plastic Surgery and has an extra sense of completion too, as the newer line-up feels more solid than ever.

The title of the song and nature of DRAGs work suggests the theme of the song straight away, but behind Heather’s confident vocals, the song is built upon great drums and a thick bass line, which is contrasted by a dirtily distorted guitar sound that is prominent in any DRAG song. As in any of their songs, you can find disturbed and unstable lyrics threatening the over-protected world that we live in, while also featuring haunting examples in the bridge section – a common thread from the band.

To get an idea of the sounds you can expect from the new releases, I totally recommend their second EP, Homemade Plastic Surgery, which was released in mid-2011. The band will also be making further announcements on their website in the lead up to the release.


Artist:  DRAG
Release Name:  Neurotica
Type:  EP
Date:  2013,
Purchase Link:  http://sleazypunk.com/product-category/music/
Artist Info:  http://sleazypunk.com/tag/neurotica/

‘Of The Autumn’ by Broken Marionettes

Rating: ★★★★★

For something ‘recorded in either a bedroom or a living-room using 1 or 2 microphones, a few guitars, a lot of coffee and a pocketful of dreams’, this EP is simply extraordinary. The alternative acoustic duo, made up of Hedley Jackson and James Coburn, may have composed what are possibly the most beautiful four songs I have ever heard and their natural approach makes it all the more better.

The unsigned release from September last year shows off the duos mix of influences which range from Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Sigur Ros, Nirvana, Daughter, Elbow, The Beatles, Elliot Smith, Foo Fighters and Fleet Foxes. A common theme is heard throughout amongst with touches of folk and some slight indie takes too.

Indigo is the delightful opening song that is offered by this very modest duo. It is a slow and peaceful song with passionate vocals. It is closely followed by Empty Streets which given the opportunity, could win a thousand hearts in one performance. It builds up gently throughout into  harmonious piece of music with monumental impact.

Over is a more mellow song than the initial two, however features the soft addition of drums and its lyrics are numbing. It is echoed through into the final song, Arboretum, which is built up from a scattered guitar melody which is held throughout the song. It doesn’t follow the anticipated chord pattern that as a listener you expect, which changes the feel of the song completely and the discreet addition of other instruments and percussion makes this song a hidden gem in any music library and a must buy from iTunes.

If you’d like to find more information about the Broken Marionettes, visit their Facebook page.


Artist:  Broken Marionettes
Release Name:  Of The Autumn
Type:  EP
Date:  2013, February 6th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/of-the-autumn-ep/id600966657
Artist Info:  http://brokenmarionettes.bandcamp.com

‘Pull The Pin’ by Stereophonics

Rating: ★★★★☆

Pull The Pin, the bands sixth album, received mainly mixed response after its release in 2007. While there are some, peculiar songs, it is almost a turning point for the band. The timing of the album also coincided with Kelly Jones’ debut solo album, Only The Names Have Been Changed, which was actually recorded in between takes for his bands release.

“We were recording…and in-between takes I started doing these songs off the cuff. Three or four tracks in I realised that this could actually be something…strange how it’s always little things that makes big things happen.”

On Pull The Pin though, all twelve songs have that ‘classic Stereophonics’ sound with its guitar and vocal driven melodies that ring throughout. It begins similarly to Language Sex Violence Other, replacing Superman with Soldiers Make Good Targets. The noticeable harmonies in the chorus that continue from previous albums is also set in this opening song.

While the band is one of my all time favourites, I can’t help but feel disappointed by Pass The Buck. Its chorus is somewhat annoying and perhaps a little too repetitive but it isn’t long before It Means Nothing comes up; the first single for the album. It was released in September 2006, several months ahead of any other release. It’s a typical rock song with gentle guitars and mellow lyrics but is perhaps one of few ‘dark horses’ on the album. It stands out amongst the others as being quite a powerful piece of music despite its simplicity – a connection I am beginning to find a lot in some of the more recent reviews I’ve written.

Again, like Pass The Buck, I’m not exactly sure what the band were thinking when they wrote Bank Holiday Monday. It feels like a desperate attempt to be exciting but instead sounds like Kelly’s trying to shout over the top of the overly-keen guitars. I don’t think much of this song, but there is certainly a contrast going into what follows. Daisy Lane is the story about a young boy who, down the street where Kelly lives, was stabbed to death. It’s a peaceful song with the lyrics that really dig deep into your mind. Ignoring the words though, the song is calm and features really beautiful guitar riffs over a very basic drum beat. Typical Kelly vocals towards the end and a discrete guitar solo transforms the song from being slow and melodic into what is actually a powerful piece of music. It goes back to the simplicity being powerful, and this highlights that with huge colours.

What has been called ‘the albums laziest song’ by some critics comes up next, although I have to disagree. While Stone may contain the same lyrics from an earlier successful hit, Moviestar, they are used differently and really, who cares? The words fit the music perfectly and the rest of the lyrics flow on from them, so, I really don’t see a problem. It was also suggested that the song was written at short notice, something blamed on their old record label, however the song feels as good as their others. It features the distinct vocals that you’d expect from any other song and has the same impact too. It actually leads in pretty well into the second single which was the poorest chart performance since More Life In A Tramps Vest from Word Gets Around by reaching #32. My Friends, which after having a great start, begins to get annoying after the second chorus. I Could Lose Ya is possibly the most useless song on the album, offering nothing at all.

Bright Red Star goes back to the mellow moods of Daisy Lane, predominantly guitar and vocals. Serving only as a break between full band songs, its a roughly sung piece. The guitar melody that is played throughout begins okay but slowly becomes too repetitive until a slight build up and slow ending. If you turned up your speakers to listen to the quieting ending of Bright Red Star, now would be a good time to turn them down as the high-energy Lady Luck pretty much starts on the word go. What I would consider the other ‘dark horse’ on the album, the song has outbursts of excitement before structured calm intervals as verses. Its chorus’ are powerful and lyrics, ‘don’t cry, cry, baby now, you’re my, my, lady luck’ seem to echo in your mind.

Crush and Drowning finish the album together successfully. Crush is a more classic sounding Stereophonics song with stabbed verses and fuller choruses with typical harmonies by the band. Drowning though almost sets a taster of what’s to come in the sense of ‘darker’ songs. With the following album being Keep Calm and Carry On where many of the songs are dark themed and the new single on their best of compilation, My Own Worst Enemy, you really feel the sense of the start of something new. After Drowning opens with distorted guitars and the usual vocal you’d expect from Kelly, the song builds up into a frighteningly powerful song that ends on a massive high.


Artist:  Stereophonics
Release Name:  Pull The Pin
Type:  Album
Date:  2007, October 12th
Purchase Link:  http://shop.stereophonics.com
Artist Info:  http://www.stereophonics.com

‘Let It Go’ by Fossil Collective

Rating: ★★★★☆

Let It Go is the first single by the reforming band of Fossil Collective, who had previously released material under the name of Vib Gyor, an alternative-rock band from Leeds. According to a small handful of websites, the band split up for the members wanting to try new things however with a previous name like that, it’s not hard to imagine why they wanted change.

The song appears on the EP of the same name as well the bands more recently released debut album, titled Tell Where To Lie. In this review though, I am concentrating on the single, which was highlighted on iTunes last week as being their free ‘Single Of The Week’.

Let It Go is a calm and mellow alternative/acoustic song with beautiful lyrics.

You were the ocean, I was drawn into you.
But you can’t always get where you are going to
Where are we going, where are we going.
There are mountains to climb so let me carry you.

Melodically, the song is romantic and soft on the mind, its simplicity somehow fills a gap and despite there being no real build to the song, it’s great. There is a heavenly guitar solo which fits the song seamlessly. In its four or so minutes, there isn’t a note wrong and the song flows easily through its structure. This is undoubtably a keeper.


Artist:  Fossil Collective
Release Name:  Let It Go
Type:  EP
Date:  2013, April 9th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/let-it-go-single/id632165611
Artist Info:  http://www.fossilcollective.com

‘Clapped Out’ by Flat Ed

Rating: ★★★★☆

As technology advances on a day-to-day basis, it is surprising to hear of a release primarily on vinyl – but this is exactly what’s happening here. In early May, 250 copies of Clapped Out by Flat Ed will be distributed from a pre-order to those traditionalists who live for the warm sounds from the needle. But what is the album all about?

The debut begins with an astonishing strong introduction in 24 Hours. The song is straight in setting its folk routes and making a mark with Ed’s distinct voice. With a hard setting melody and rhythm, it sets a high standard for what is to follow.

Having only known about Flat Ed for a matter of weeks, I kept an open mind in listening to the soon-to-be-release however the second song was a bit strange on first impressions. It took an almost electropop approach to folk which didn’t quite work but the short piece of music is soon taken over by Funny which takes my mind to basement jazz clubs as the flowing bass and scattered piano melodies ride across a delightful drum beat. Ed’s voice reflects on the mood of the song and with the addition of clean electric guitar, in a minimalistic approach, the song is a dream to listen to.

The songs that follow are Late Autumn Walk and Scapegoat. While the first is a slow and minimalistic song, the second takes back jazz influences it seems and while a little quicker in tempo, is lyrically beautifully and reflects on more mellow attitudes. Scapegoat has an aromatic sense to it which is totally desirable, before leading into In Any Bottle. It has near psychedelic sounds but ultimately flows from what has already come round on the album.

Growing Crows, the seventh song, has an intro you think you’ve already heard before leading into what you could call a Beatle influenced song. With a vocal sound similar to that of the early-pop era, its a wonderfully retro song that brings out the best of Eds ideas. Sister School is unfortunately a monotonous and somewhat repetitive song that appears to loop the same melodies and lyrics throughout, despite it having the usual structure in most songs ever written. It comes across almost too laid back and its not something that fits the other songs at all. Upstairs to Bed is possibly the nearest to mainstream as you will find on Clapped Out. It opens with open drums and a dirty bass line, sounding like something you might find by the likes of Elbow but distorted vocals and electric sounds change that slightly, but thinking about it as a late interlude, the song fits perfectly despite the repetitive lyrics and melodies. It leads directly into the closing song, Concrete.

It’s slower and more mellow than what we’ve heard already and is built predominantly from piano melodies. It has purposely flat notes which add a slightly different texture to what it would sound like otherwise, giving it a new sense of direction. If put behind an intimidating video, it would serve good as a nightmarish song but could also be seen as romantic given the right visuals. The song opens out to individual thoughts and somehow allows you to build your own image of what the song is about.

While none of what’s on offer is jump-out exciting as most youngsters want in their music, it is however something that reflects on the ever-changing industry. It takes the better sounds of early-pop and the roots of folk and marries them in this wonderful, almost indie-like album. Listening to the playlist on offer, your ears are met with something different to anything you can pick up from the radio or television, or what is mainstream and well, everywhere. This breaks that mould, challenging your sense of change, and wins.

To find out more about Flat Ed, visit his Band Camp profile here.


Artist:  Flat Ed
Release Name:  Clapped Out
Type:  Album
Date:  2013, June 21st
Purchase Link:  http://flated.bandcamp.com
Artist Info:  http://flated.bandcamp.com

‘Born to Die’ by Lana Del Rey

Rating: ★★★☆☆

It was a friend at college who suggested I listened to Lana Del Rey and I’m not quite sure why. For most female singers, there’s a real challenge to be something different, as opposed to being constantly compared to the likes of Hayley Williams or Beyonce for that matter. Lana Del Rey, yes, she makes her own sound, but my first impression what that she shouldn’t have bothered.

That was my first impression though. Born To Die is the singers second album but features a mixture of success and songs for the bin. Her strong voice can take some use getting used to if you are expecting long notes and powerful choruses. There’s a feeling that her singing is too much effort but the lyrics are deep and a little controversial in parts. Her songs are simply written, and in respect are very powerful too.

The opener, which lives under the album title, is a little lazy but shows off the characteristics I just highlighted. It comes across in parts like she is relying too much on the music to carry the song forward, but on listening deeper in to the lyrics, it is actually a cleverly written piece of music. Off To The Races follows the same pattern as the song before and a mixture of vocal textures adds some variation in the song with a softer more feminine voice during the chorus’ and then a somewhat harsher sound in the verses which is what sounds lazy and recorded with only half effort bringing.

I had to listen to Blue Jeans a couple of times before I think I got it, but even now I’m unsure. In the first few listens, it came across as if Lana has a split personality with the difference in vocal textures. One line would be softer and the next will be the opposite. I’m not sure what she was trying to achieve, but it doesn’t feel accomplished whatever it was meant to be. The first song that I can finally say is okay appeared next.

By this point, I had got used to Lana’s irritating voice and the calm introduction slowly built up beneath her voice. For once, the song felt ‘naturally written’, and Video Games progresses calmly with strings and piano throughout. I’m thinking that if she built the album with this texture in mind, things would sound a lot cleaner – as opposed to the jumping about that has put me off so much in previous songs. The build up took longer than expected and didn’t quite full fill my expectations, but it was a nice break from the other offerings. It was a much needed break before Diet Mountain Dew, which is not only going back to the monotonous lazy recordings as heard before, but its also a little stalkerish I think. What follows is what I would think is another Born to Die or Off to the Races, but instead, National Anthem begins and proves me wrong.

After a long struggle, the filling that is so desperately needed through the album so far has finally made it and the songs progresses fully with not only great lyrics, but also confident melodies and excellent music into what is actually a great song. It’s a success that Dark Paradise is able to continue the themes from the excellent hit before, while adding a little variation to what made National Anthem such a winner.

But this is slowly becoming the album I would only listen to when doing the washing up, and even then it’d only come on after cheesy musical hits. Radio and Carmen are two odd songs that I can’t quite explain. While the first is almost empty in every way, the second is a struggle to enjoy. Lana’s voice slowly becomes irritating again and you soon wish the album was over but on seeing that there are a few more songs left, well my heart began to stop. Million Dollar Man, confidently retrieves some sanity as while keeping within the ‘sound’ of the album, it has some new features and takes a new take on things which is appreciated.

You’re take back to Born to Die as Summertime Sadness goes back to an inch of desperation and hinting back at a reliance for a good backing track. Its lyrics, like the other songs, are full and meaningful. The ending however, goes back to the questions as well, the vocal faded and then, well, the music just, stopped. Nothing happened! It was like the producers ran out of tape, its pretty awful.

This Is What Makes Us Girls follows and draws the album to a nice close by bringing what really are the best features of the eleven songs previously into something that is actually worth calling a song.


Artist:  Lana Del Rey
Release Name:  Born to Die
Type:  Album
Date:  2012, January 31st
Purchase Link:  http://bravadousa.com/lanadelrey/
Artist Info:  http://www.lanadelrey.com

‘Will and the People’

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s not every day we have a band that actually met at a music festival, however Glastonbury 2010 seemed to marry Will and the People in a wonderful blend of harmonies and acoustics and occasional surprise f*ck.

My first impressions of the band and their self-titled debut album were that it sounded very Bruno Marsy, which isn’t always a bad thing. But with a twist of other acoustic rock bands it seems, they are actually so much more than what the R&B pianist can be. While Will’s voice is a little too much in parts, it suits the tone of the songs. Opening with Troubled Pro and No Shame, the bands sound is set in stone with very upbeat acoustic riffs and melodies.

The third Song, Misunderstood, opens with studio talk. It’s short but quickly moves past the explicits to the song. A beautiful, raw approach is what there is to love about this song, with no special effects or anything computerised to distract you, there is just you and the lyrics which are just as beautiful as the sound of the song.

The full band return for Lion In The Morning Sun, their fast paced debut single which is simple but highly effective. With experiments between different tempos, it certainly keeps you on edge and with the cheery ‘get up and dance’ attitude, you certainly want to leap from your chair. Something really discreet which I somehow picked up on, was the slight changes in the vocal melody in each verse where a difference in the way Will sings catches you out. It adds yet another ‘edge’ to the song, and certainly a good one. The song is followed by Train, which despite being noticeably slower, is somewhat meaningful and deep in its lyrical content. The use of strings emphasises a slightly depressing mood from the song and a gentle guitar riff over soft cries tickles the hair on the back of your neck.

Blue is another gentle song, but the lyrics are very straight to the point with the opening line reading;

“You don’t know jack about me…”

The song continues the mood from Train, which is soon overrun by Salamander – the bands second single. This particular song features the full band once again and with an almost Spanish influence in the chorus’, it certainly has its differences from the rest of the album. Explicit lyrics return in Propellerhead in a rather straight-faced, mellow song which like Train and Blue is a lot slower than you’d expect. It has deep and meaningful lyrics and the song gently builds before oddly transforming into something you’d think you would only hear in a fair ground. It was a bizarre change and one that really can’t be justified. It is soon replaced by a jazzy Stranger which has dirty vocal melodies but before the sense of normality could met, it went a step towards psychedelia with some nightmarish sounds in the middle. I’m not quite sure, but I think it works for the song. In The Game, a mixture of harmonies and instrumental breaks make this a conversational song with minimalistic verses and powerful choruses. It reflects highly on what is best of Will and the People and makes a great end to the album.

A bonus track, 1 Microphone Song, opened bass heavy with touches of scat guitars and folkish vocal melodies. It seemed pretty wasted on the album, in my opinion, but works well as a bonus song.

This is an album to check out if you’re into Bruno Mars, Keaton Henson, Train and Ben Howard, or anything along that style. You find more info on their website.


Artist:  Will And The People
Release Name:  Will And The People
Type:  Album
Date:  N/A
Purchase Link:  http://www.baggytrousermusic.com/catalog/
Artist Info:  http://www.willandthepeople.com

‘Bright Idea’ by Orson

Rating: ★★★★☆

If its a feel good pop album you want, then you’ve hit the right notes with Bright Idea. The album is the bands debut and despite being self-resleased in 2005, was available commercially in mid-2006. What makes it even more pleasant to listen to, is knowing that the band self-funded it all costing them about

Opening with the title song, Bright Idea, you’re instantly greeted with the bands iconic sound. It is more poppy rock than fake poppy which I despise. With cleverly written lyrics and a just as great melody, its no wonder the band kicked off and got the commercial release they so needed. It is closely followed by the bands main hit, No Tomorrow, which is more of something to dance along to, or better still sing along to. It was the mainstream on the radio in its primetime but will always be uplifting in any playlist.

Another iconic song of theirs, Happiness, is up third and shows off a great vocal strength and just as in Already Over shows off a little swag and feels well-performed. The songs feel like they’re meant to be, as vocal melodies swing into action and run smoothly against the set instruments below. Downtown was released only in the UK and is very poppy in comparison to the rest of the release but still fits the mood perfectly. With my foot having tapped constantly throughout the album so far, it’s safe to say its worthy of its four stars.

Trying to Help stopped the tapping though and while its chorus is alright, the rest of the song is a load of shambles. Mind you, every album needs a ‘filler song’. Last Night is unfortunately on the same wavelength as Trying To Help but its worth saying that there is something else in between the two.

I never thought I’d ever say a song had swag, let alone two, but So Ahead Of Me is another one of those ‘smooth’ songs that just seems to fit. It expresses those same techniques as the earlier songs on offer and proves that songs can show swag. If you’re not in a suit picking up girls in a fancy club, clicking your fingers and getting all the looks, then your imagination isn’t working. Or you have no soul. Either way, that is the picture this album gives me.

The album then shocked me a little. It appeared at this point that the album is the story of a night out, with each song reflecting on a different mood of the evening and then the night. Look Around is a more mellow, piano based song, contrasting to the high-energy songs that have been continuous throughout. To take a fast paced, exciting album and then flip it over into the ballad of a song Look Around appears to be, on paper you’d think it never works. But it does. And its excellent. With a high-energy ending, you would really hope that the following song would continue this theme.

It doesn’t.

I lasted only a few seconds before skipping through Save The World to the final song, ironically called The Okay Song as its nearly just as bad.

After completing the album, I believe that this is a great example of real music. It cost barely nothing to produce but the songs are catchy and exciting – everything you really want from a pop rock album. It’s just a shame the band only lasted for two albums.


Artist:  Orson
Release Name:  Bright Idea
Type:  Album
Date:  2006, May 9th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bright-idea/id154229489
Artist Info:  N/A

‘Piece by Piece’ by Katie Melua

Rating: ★★★★☆

Now eight years old, Piece by Piece can be labelled a classic album by jazz blues singer-songwriter Katie Melua. Her second album was released back in 2005 and the title song was written primarily after her break up with Luke Pritchard, front man in The Kooks.

The opening song, Shy Boy, takes a huge jazz influence with a rolling acoustic bass line and brushed snare beats. It’s a soft song that opens the album really well before the first single of the album, Nine Million Bicycles, appears. It is one of Katie’s biggest hits in the UK and was written with an interesting story which involved Simon Singh, a science writer who corrected some of Katie’s lyrics saying that it ‘demonstrated a deep ignorance of cosmology and no understanding of the scientific method’ and the two reached a compromise that was somewhat scientifically accurate and musically sound. The song is associated with Katie everywhere and is one of the reasons that made the album stand out amongst others.

Piece by Piece follows, before Half Way Up The Hindu Kush which takes back the jazz influence of Shy Boy with a touch of poppy vocal and excitement found only elsewhere. The song starts fairly slow, but easily builds up into a pleasant song with a touch of brass which offers some extra texture allowing it to break away from one sound alone. A heavy piano ending leads nice into the bluesy Blues In The Night which features typical bluesy lyrics and like instruments. Originally written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, it is one of a couple of cover songs on the album – something which bothers me slightly, but these versions are perfectly composed and work well under Katie’s softer voice.

It separates out from the jazz sound that dominated the release before one of my favourite songs comes up. Spiders Web has somewhat challenging lyrics but features wonderful melodies and a chilling piano riff that echoes throughout sending shivers down every inch of your body. It’s a gentle song that truly deserves its place on the release. In terms of chart performance, it didn’t quite make the top 50 in the UK charts, but hit with a storm in Europe. Being written during the lead up to the Iraq War, it is said to be about finding the difference between right and wrong.

The following three songs feel badly organised, but Blue Shoes is a bluesy jazz piece that is slow and gentle with the enriching voice that Katie has bought to the album throughout. The song differs to On The Road Again, a cover from Canned Heat, being faster paced and mainly bluesy in its performance, making great use of trumpets and guitars. Thank You, Stars goes back to the slow pace of Blue Shoes, downgrading the mood left off from On The Road Again, but the use of strings fills big gaps left amongst this particular song. A particular edge to Katie’s voice, which becomes more prominent in her latest album, The House, seeps through the layers and makes a nice change to what could otherwise be a monotonous tone. The song stretches out her voice, proving me wrong in this instance, but its not long before I begin to get bored and despite the short album length of forty-five minutes or so, the twelve songs seem to drag on a little.

Just Like Heaven is another great song on the album, but I’m not sure if its set in the best place ever – in fact, like other songs on the release, I’m not sure that there is a ‘good place’ to have put it. It is one of few covers on the album, with the original being by alternative rock band, The Cure. Written in the late 80s, it was the third single from the bands album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The second single from the album, I Cried For You, would have made a better ending to the release for its mellow ending and softer middle before I Do Believe In Love – which doesn’t quite reflect the sound of the album but I guess ends it well.


Artist:  Katie Melua
Release Name:  Piece by Piece
Type:  Album
Date:  2005, September 25th
Purchase Link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Piece-By-Katie-Melua/dp/B000ALLLHU
Artist Info:  http://www.katiemelua.com

‘Human’ by Daughter

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It began with some vague resemblance to Sigur Ros before flipping and sounding like the new typical strained female singer-songwriter style vocals backed by overly repetitive drums and a guitar lost somewhere in the mix.

By indie-folk band Daughter, the single which was released earlier this year, was offered for free on iTunes and isn’t something I’d consider paying for straight away however the song does have some interesting lyrics. It will be interesting to hear how this sounds on the album, If You Leave.

I would say though, that for someone who wants to try something new, to give this a listen. While I may not appreciate it much, if at all, it is a sound that is by others. If I was to pigeon hole this amongst other artists, Florence and the Machine springs to mind as well as the lesser-known Jain Wells.


Artist:  Daughter
Release Name:  If You Leave
Type:  Single
Date:  2013, March 12th
Purchase Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/human-single/id604106736
Artist Info:  N/A

‘Daniel Powter’

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Daniel Powter’s self-titled second album is extremely poppy.

I say that with hope as I listen through the first song, Song 6. While it is, well, poppy, it is actually a really good song. Its nothing special, but its nothing bad. I find that its the same story for Free Loop, which follows. There isn’t a lot that’s different about the songs as they are very much on the same level as each other, just with different chords and melodies.

The first chord of the third song changes everything, but I guess if you had a bad day and wrote about it, people would remember. Bad Day is the song that everyone knows Daniel Powter for. The catchy lyrics and minor change is something that personally takes me back to the charts of my childhood – a point in time when music was borderline okay, before almost sprinting in the wrong direction. The slow and basic chord progression works well and the song is alright, I guess. A key change towards the end is somewhat expected but it works.

Suspect was a strange one until it kicked in. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have skipped straight through to what ever comes next but with a different take on the vocals, the song breaks away from the rest of the album a little showing us something new. The feeling doesn’t last for long though when Lie To Me starts. Continuing the same levels from Song 6 and Free Loop, a subtle addition of strings attempt to break the song away but its the high impacting chorus which really stands out. Its at this point when Daniel’s voice becomes a little irritating and while it seemed to fit in earlier songs, it begins to sound like he’s been sucking on helium gas between recording takes.

And who likes listening to that when it’s not on the Disney Channel?

Jimmy Gets High recovered the album for me, with a more appropriate vocal range for the verse but its not long before the balloons are back as the chorus is almost unbearable. Verses? Spot on.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take much of that and moved straight onto Styrofoam. A song named after a material I used in technology classes in school raises my suspicions, but with the vocal range I wanted so much in Jimmy Gets High, it actually sounded good. It was just as pop influenced as the songs earlier however slower and more calm than anything I had previously heard. Hollywood didn’t continue this and I began to feel like the album wasn’t put together with much thought as you pass from good song to bad song pretty quickly. Hollywood brings mixed feelings to me, its got some great ideas but in a couple of parts, leaves me questioning ‘did that really happen?’ and that’s not what I want to be doing.

Lost on the Stoop is a more piano based song, as Bad Day was at the start. It makes a change from the pop sounds but for the final track listing, you can’t escape that. Give Me Life is another balance between thoughts but I guess it ends the album positively?

If you’d like to listen to an album that is neither good or bad, you’ve got it. It’s not great, but its not awful.


Artist:  Daniel Powter
Release Name:  Daniel Powter
Type:  Album
Date:  2005, August 8th
Purchase Link:  http://www.danielpowter.com/music/
Artist Info:  http://www.danielpowter.com

‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley

Rating: ★★★★☆

Nineteen years ago, Jeff Buckley released what is now considered one of the most beautiful albums ever recorded. With production Andy Wallace, who worked on Nirvana’s Nevermind, you know that this is something to stand out and on the word go, you really feel it.

The album has a modest opener. Mojo Pin is calm but also shows off the powerful voice – a strong start for what was his debut, and only full length album before his death in 1997. Jeff Buckley’s vocal range is something that is used and fulfilled in each song and is a key part to what his musical style was all about, however the range is more notable in the second song, Grace, which also titles the album.

Last Goodbye and Lilac Wine follow. The first of the two is actually one of his most commercially successful songs and is more ‘down to earth’ than the previous two with a more straight forward melody. Lilac Wine however is not one of his own songs, being a cover of James Shelton – the song was also has a version by Katie Melua on her Call Off The Search album. The song itself is a mellow, softer song but still pushes the vocal melodies that are typical of Jeff and he really makes this song his own.

With more emphasis on guitars, So Real picks up more with the addition of drums and other discrete instruments. To follow on, Hallelujah takes its place on the album. Its the one song that most people will know him for, but like Lilac Wine, is not his own. Originally by Leonard Cohen, John Cale’s version inspired Jeff into his version which has become the best-known out of the many. With what I would consider one of the most famous melodies ever, featuring even more famous lyrics and his raw vocal portraying every single emotion with strength, its no wonder that this became such a hit after he died. The version was re-released as a single in 2007 and reached #1.

Inspired by the breakup between himself and Rebecca Moore, Lover, You Should’ve Come Over features some confusing and complicated lyrics but kind of makes sense. Dream Brother is a softer song, building up discretely ready for the posthumous eleventh song which closes the album. Its clear that there is passion in the song, its something deeply personal and that is reflected in Jeff’s voice, which shows off the emotions behind the songs as he has throughout the release. Forget Her was released on the remastered reissue in 2004, however hit controversy as Jeff had specifically chosen to use So Real for the final release of Grace. I can’t see what any problem was with this, as both songs are wonderful to listen to, but Forget Her is a great piece to finish with as its softer with discrete electric guitar solos and a slight jazzed influence against the beautiful, raw vocal that Jeff has.


Artist:  Jeff Buckley
Release Name:  Grace
Type:  Album
Date:  1994, August 23rd
Purchase Link:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Grace-Jeff-Buckley/dp/B000024E9Z
Artist Info:  N/A