Dream-Pop, Indie

Japanese Breakfast- “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” Review

Rising from the ashes of Philadelphia emo band Little Big League, Japanese Breakfast is the solo musical project of singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner, its sound drifting from Little Big League’s more straightforward, American Football-esque jangle into lush and pillowy soundscapes. The title of “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” is utterly appropriate, the album gently splicing together misty synths, splaying guitar lines and moments of Breeders-lite rock.

Born in Seoul, Zauner remarked that Japanese Breakfast’s name was an attempt to blend American culture and Asian exoticism, and this sense of escapism pervades the floaty eroticism of “Road Head”: “You gave road head on a turnpike exit…pump and run”. Sprawling highlight “Diving Woman” dimly evokes Swim Deep’s “Fueiho Boogie”, fittingly enough a song about the intersection of Western and Eastern culture, and the sweet ditty “Till Death” reminds of the Eels in its tinkling music-box instrumentation.

“Machinist” is probably the closest Japanese Breakfast gets to outright pop in its sugary, auto-tuned vocals and clucking funk guitar, even throwing in a saxophone solo. However, if this goes slightly overboard it is counterbalanced by the album’s tenderer moments. Opening with the “Be My Baby” beat, “Boyish” is a sweeping and romantic ballad that Japanese Breakfast pulls off surprisingly well, Zauner despairing that “All of my devotion turns violent”. It also reveals a surprising but likeable line in self-deprecating humour with the deadpan remark that “I can’t get you off my mind, I can’t get you off in general”.

However, the album more broadly struggles to distinguish itself. Zauner’s voice, while pleasant, isn’t particularly distinctive and often Japanese Breakfast sounds musically interchangeable with other dreamy, introspective bands like Beach House or Wild Nothing. Despite the talk about melding Western and Eastern sensibilities, nothing about “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” feels noticeably Asian, instead slumping into a tried-and-tested trench of American indie, from the unravelling “Undone…The Sweater Song” arpeggios of “The Body Is A Blade” to the maudlin prettiness of “This House”.

In spite of its lack of real idiosyncrasy, “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” is an attractive album, from the sleepy grandeur of “Jimmy Fallon Big!” to the gently spiralling title track. The other planet the album references in its title may not be somewhere you’d want to live, but it’s worth a visit. CO

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Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIqCBKT5h-Y

 

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Alternative, Indie

Public Service Broadcasting- “Every Valley” Review

In their thoughtful deconstruction of the very notion of “a band”, Public Service Broadcasting are an intriguing proposition. A three piece who go by pseudonyms (including the splendid “Wrigglesworth”), they play instrumental music and use snippets of old archival footage and—you guessed it—public service broadcasting to speak for them, creating a fascinating dichotomy between personal anonymity and the bold, cut-glass enunciations of the newsreaders and commentators who represent them, often collaged into a deeply political narrative.

This is especially true of “Every Valley”, the band’s third proper album, and effectively a concept record about the decline of the Welsh coal mining industry. Recorded in a hall formerly used by a workers’ institute in the defunct mining town of Ebbw Vale, the album feels steamed in smog and grime, particularly on atmospheric tracks like “All Out” and the ominous “The Pit”. Nonetheless, “Every Valley” is permeated with a deep sense of melancholy and loss, notably in the title track’s misty evocations of “the weekday pubs and Sunday chapels” that are now lost to time. On “Progress”, one of the album’s highlights, the gorgeous, wistful middle-eight is punctuated by the stony declaration that “These men look the same as they have always looked. They talk the same as they have always talked. But before your eyes, they are changing”.

Indeed, political themes and the spectre of Thatcher float a millimetre beneath the surface of “Every Valley”. The brassy “They Gave Me A Lamp” obliquely comments on the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike through the prism of a single female miner: “I’ve been in front, I have never given in… I’ll be proud to look back on it”. “All Out” simmers with resentment and betrayal in its assertion that “I thought they’d respect us… I don’t respect them now”. The remarks from the band’s primary songwriter J Willgoose, Esq. that the album serves as a microcosm for “abandoned and neglected communities across the western world” and the “malignant, cynical and calculating brand of politics” their decline has birthed will guarantee “Every Valley” divisiveness, but it can be nevertheless be appreciated as a vivid and heady time capsule, albeit one with a clear agenda of persuasion.

Moreover, it is easy to enjoy the album simply on a musical level. The jittery “People Will Always Need Coal” is warmed by a swooning string section and James Dean Bradfield roars furiously through “Turn No More”, his fame as a member of a left-leaning Welsh band in the Manic Street Preachers unlikely to be coincidental. However, a sense of powerlessness and futility pervades the album, crystallised in the massed choral voices of closing track “Take Me Home”. The choir provides a final note of noble, if doomed, solidarity but it is impossible to escape the truth that, for these men, the home they sing of no longer exists. CO

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Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1ZbdGBAqZQ

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Alternative, Indie

‘Mystery Girl’- Alexandra Savior

Alexandra Savior, who has worked with James Ford (Producer for The Last Shadow Puppets, Florence and the Machine and The Arctic Monkeys) and Alex Turner himself, has dropped the video for her latest song, ‘Mystery Girl’.

The influence of the Arctic Monkey’s frontman is evident when listening to Savior’s music and so her quality as an up-and-coming artist cannot be doubted. She even collaborated with him on The Last Shadow Puppet’s track, ‘Miracle Aligner’.

Savior’s album, Belladonna of Sadness is out in April of next year.

 

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Alternative, Indie, Rock

‘Formidable’- The Big Moon

London group, The Big Moon, have been consistently releasing some stellar tracks for a  while now and they’re back with their latest effort, ‘Formidable’.

The track takes a while to build up but once it gets going, it’s certainly worth the wait. Raw vocals eventually unleash themselves and blend perfectly with reverb soaked guitars and catchy hooks.

The band are also set to release their new album, Love in the 4th Dimension, in April of 2017 which was recorded over last summer. Juliette of the band said: “We spent twelve gorgeous summer days in the studio hanging out with the brilliant producer and super babe Catherine Marks, experimenting and noodling and shredding and hitting things until all the right noises happened at once”.

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Indie, Pop, Synth-Pop

‘Brooklyn’ by Fickle Friends

 

Last week, Brighton based indie-pop band, Fickle Friends, released their latest work of synth-hopping, guitar-wah-ing music into the world, ‘Brooklyn’.

With a throwback 80s sound colliding with a modern indie aesthetic, it seems that Fickle Friends have found their very own recipe and it certainly tastes good!

Whilst there is an upbeat bounce to ‘Brooklyn’, the subtext of the lyrics is quiet different. Supposedly, according to singer, Natti, the song personifies anxiety as if it were someone you find difficult to understand and get your head around: ‘You are someone else, it’s something I can’t define, you are not mine’. 

For lovers of: Two Door Cinema Club, Blood Orange, Everything Everything

 

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Alternative, Indie, Pop, Rock, Synth-Pop, Uncategorized

Glitch Code’s ‘Glimmer’

Glitch Code is the exciting musical vehicle behind the musical masterminds of singer, Rachel Harvey, and songwriter/producer, Paul Kirkpatrick.

The single ‘Glimmer’ comes from the band’s album, Gifted_Damaged which has received praise from a number of publications including Subba Cultcha and Rhythm and Booze.

Harvey adds a very distinctive edge to Glitch Code’s brand of alternative electro-pop with eery and brooding vocals that may remind listeners of Kate Bush, Annie Lennox’s work with the Eurythmics or (going out on a limb here) the darkened sound of Evanescence.

Trying to pin down Glitch Code’s music is difficult because it is so eclectic, evidently drawing influences from a wide range of musical locations. Therefore, perhaps we should stop trying to compare them to other artists and embrace them for the unique work they are doing! Their experimentalism has even led to them using unusual instruments to fine-tune their sound, such as fretless basses and the theremin (yes, I had to look it up too).

However, what can certainly be said though is that there are few sprinkles of 80s production values found in Glitch Code’s mixing pot with computer-esque synths and robotic sound effects used in subtle, but effective ways. This, along with the heavily distorted guitar that underlies the track creates an unheard of sound that has been meticulously tweaked to electro-pop perfection – nobody is making music quite like Glitch Code right now.

In a sentence, you need to get on the Glitch Code hype this minute so you can say that you were into them a long time before before a whole host of other bands come along trying to copy their style. Go on! Do it!

Find out a little more about Glitch code right here:

Links:

http://www.glitch-code.com/

https://www.facebook.com/glitchcode

https://twitter.com/glitchcode

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Indie

Liam Browne & The Love release indie anthem ‘Baby Grow’

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The music is raw and unpretentious, juxtaposed with the vocals, which have an idiosyncratic style and are consistently engaging, while the lyrics are intriguing and intelligent.”– Nigel Colley, Reflex Artists

Having found themselves a cult following in Manchester, unsigned genre-meddling indie act Liam Browne & The Love seem destined to take on the rest of the country with their eclectic and nutty Northern-rooted sound.

 

Straight off their upcoming album Forget & Remember, their brand new single ‘Baby Grow’ is an upbeat and bouncy indie rock anthem that provides a small taster of the band’s large sonic scope. A music video is set to drop soon.

Stream ‘Baby Grow’ on Soundcloud here: 

Delivered with a raw and untamed Mancunian attitude, the album Forget & Remember is a crazy cocktail of lad rock, hip hop, folk and electronica all recorded in guitarist James Fraser’s garage (later mixed at Noise Boy Studios). Rowetta of the legendary Happy Mondays appears on two of the record’s tracks.

 

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