Nick Harper & The Wilderness Kids – Lies! Lies! Lies! (Review)

Nick Harper has been my biggest musical influence ever since I was little. He’s hands down my favourite songwriter and artist other than Mr Jeff Buckley. I’ve been brought up with Nick’s music and also his father’s music as well, Roy Harper. When I first heard that Nick was touring with a band (the Wilderness Kids aka “Port Erin”) back in 2016, it definitely caught my attention, but then I found out he was recording an album with them too… I was ecstatic. Released on Friday 8th December, “Lies! Lies! Lies! is political and opinionated. Even the album cover has some very familiar faces on it. I’ll try to not be so biased while writing this review and be completely open with my thoughts.

Nick has many views against the being he’s singing about in this title track. “Lies! Lies! Lies!” is about, well, you guessed it, President Trump. Mr Trump isn’t liked by many people at all and this song is basically a story of why Nick & the Wilderness Kids don’t like him either. The song is groovy and it’s filled with rhythmical goodness. It’s an angry song and very political but it’s definitely emotional and a cry out with how a lot of people have been feeling since Trump has gotten into power.

“Nobody Loves You” is another political story based on a true event (so I think!) Woody Guthrie wrote lyrics about Fred Trump for racism. The song itself though is upbeat, powerful and it sure does deliver as it completely rocks! I love how with songwriting, the song itself can be about anyone you want it to be about. Yes, this song is political, but it doesn’t really have to be if you don’t want it to be. It could be about your worst enemy and how nobody loves them. Overall though, great song and one of my favourites.

The next song on this political album isn’t actually anything to do with politics. It’s literally about “Leaving the Club”. It’s a disco rock kind of song that is simply groovy and makes you want to dance. It’s filled with fuzzy guitar which makes it different and not just like any other groovy disco rock song. After such political songs, you’d think this surely needs to be related to something political, but like I said, it’s about leaving the club and also not having enough money to go back there, which I guess could be took as a political way as the country is broke. It seems like we need a magic money tree!

Next we have another personal favourite one of mine. The subject is fairly simple as it’s literally about “Black Friday” which is a shopping sales event that originally started in America, but we get it over here now in the UK! (Yay cheap stuff!) This is another song that isn’t political. I really love how one of the guitars gives this flamenco style in the verses which is really unique. I give it to the bass player as well, throughout all of these songs, the bass has constantly been grooving and constantly moving, round of applause to Jacob Tyghe. When it goes into the real cool, jazz part, it sounds very heavenly and dreamy. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, maybe this part is related in the way that when we see an item in a shop and instantly want to buy and then when we do, we feel good? Maybe it’s linked with that, who knows, but that’s what I think. The build up afterwards just rocks so much, I can’t even put into words how Nick’s music is so versatile. It’s so good to hear Nick play with a band after being so used to hearing him on an acoustic guitar. Even the guitar solo is modernised with a really cool reverse style delay going on. Beautiful song.

Tiina, two i’s… that’s how the spelling goes” definitely brings you closer to knowing what “Tiina” is like and brings us closer to this story. We’re back to politics and religion with this song. It tells a story about Nick’s best friend’s wife (born in Finland) being faced with deportation even though she’s lived in the UK for over 30 years. She’s faced with writing an 85 page document on why she should remain here… the place where she lives with her friends and family. It’s a very emotional and real song. I really like in the song we get a female talking which I can only presume is Tiina herself. It’s experimental and sad.

“So… it turns out there is a Magic Money Tree” is the beginning lyric of the next song on the album. It’s funny and strange. “Magic Money Tree” is groovy and pretty cool. It makes me feel like I’m on drugs while listening to it though. When I went to watch Nick and the Wilderness Kids on the album tour, he’d stop the song when he said “it’s for clinging onto POWER!!!” and would start laughing like a lunatic with lots of delay and reverb on his microphone. It was so effective and the studio version feels like it lacks that. I think though, it’s just another excuse to see Nick live because he’s so influenced by crazy stuff like Frank Zappa and you wouldn’t ever be bored while going to watch him. Magic Money Tree is obviously about finding money on a tree and wasting lots of the money, or in other words, how our country lost money and it turns out we have a magic money tree but only the rich use them and not us “normal” people. I don’t really show my views with politics online and offline, purely because I don’t really know enough about it all so it’s not my place to say much, but if I knew enough, I would definitely write songs about it, as it’s a way I deal with things, just like Nick does.

We Keep Turning Right” isn’t really the strongest on the album but it’s still good. It’s groovy as all of Nick’s songs tend to be. His songs sure does make your feel tap. I think this is about the right-wing of politics and how “we keep turning right”, for example – the right parties are in power. “Have a Nice Deity” is upbeat and sounds very happy but it’s probably the worst song on the album. It’s good but it’s not quite up there as well as the other songs unfortunately. It’s the most “pop” song of the album. For a 6:36 song, it just doesn’t feel like it gets anywhere, plus I don’t know what it’s about either! The instrumentation is great though and the song itself will probably grow on me.

“Dark Forces” is a post-punk sounding song with a very indie music based theme to it. It’s negative and about dark times, obviously. Nick’s always been the type of songwriter that tells a story with his songs, that’s probably why a lot of people stick in the ‘folk’ category, but this is just another song that explains he’s not really a folk artist after all.
Global Nation” starts off with a progressive 70’s Gentle Giant complicated sounding riff with an added harmony. This song is definitely more happy and upbeat then the last song. Global Nation is about even through hard times, our world will become better again.

Overall, this album has balls and it’s taking risks. Some people won’t like it because of how political it is. Musically, the album is amazing and lyrically too! The songs are really great. It’s so good to hear Nick playing with a band. Even though people won’t agree with what he’s saying, we can all appreciate the talent that Nick has and also the amazing backing band of his, the Wilderness Kids

Score – 9/10
Favourite Tracks: Lies! Lies! Lies!, Nobody Loves You, Leaving the Club, Black Friday, Magic Money Tree, Dark Forces, Global Nation

http://harperspace.com/ 

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Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Film Review)

During this review, I’ll be explaining my personal thoughts on the Grinch. The events throughout the film may not be in chronological order as it would take me a long time to evaluate each event in the film! Anyway, here’s my thoughts/opinions on “Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. ****INCLUDES SPOILERS****

It’s coming up to Christmas and what’s better than watching christmas films? Near enough nothing. Every single year, I watch The Grinch and other christmas films as it seems to be some sort of tradition now. This Ron Howard film is now seventeen years old and is still having an impact on this generations children plus adults. Jim Carrey stars as the main character – the Grinch. He is a true legend in the film world and this film is just another one of his iconic performances. Cindy Lou is the other main protagonist of the film played by Taylor Momsenwho further in her career starred in the hit tv show; Gossip Girl and became a full-time musician in the band; The Pretty Reckless.

As a plot summary, it’s a funny, weird film of people who are obsessed with christmas. This can be related to our own world to be honest, because there are people out there who go all out for christmas and make sure it gets better each year. We all know many people who get over excited for christmas and start singing christmas songs two months before December, which can be a bit too much for others. As long as people are happy, I really don’t mind what they do in the christmas period. Christmas is one of the most magical periods of the year.

The difference between our world and “Whoville” has to be that the people of Whoville have strange noses and big teeth, whereas us real ‘humans’… don’t (I guess we only do if it’s in our genetics). They remind me a bit of animals in a way, maybe even mice, purely because of their features. This film is definitely so powerful, because they’re all kind and welcoming spirits filled with love. Looks aren’t anything in this film, if you have a warm heart and a kind nature, you’ll go far and be loved by the people around you.

The narrator of the film is actually Anthony Hopkins who is well-known for his performances in the Hannibal Lecter films…. the Grinch is slightly different to that though obviously. The narration that Hopkins reads rolls off the tongue and he even rhymes his words which makes things easier for people to relate to, feel closer to and understand better.

Anyway, let’s get to the film itself. Everyone enjoys christmas in Whoville except for the Grinch. But could that all change? Well, no feel good/christmas film doesn’t have a cheery happy ending that everybody enjoys.  The Grinch himself is pretty scary looking, so no wonder the people of Whoville were scared of him. What I find really unique is how Cindy Lou and Max the Dog are the most mature out of everyone in their town. They’re caring and want to make sure that the Grinch is ok. The “villain” is the nasty mayor who only really cares about himself.

The first meeting of Cindy Lou and the Grinch is in the mail sort room – as things get a bit pear-shaped when obviously Cindy Lou falls into the hole of the mail processing machine which is a bit predictable. I remember watching this film for the first time when I was around 6 and even at that age, I knew something was going to happen. Mr Grinch obviously gets Cindy Lou out of the mail processing cause after all, he isn’t that bad, surely? This makes Cindy Lou truly think that the Grinch isn’t so bad and Mr Grinch feels a sudden rush of anger because he doesn’t want his “scary” reputation to die. With that the Grinch wraps her up like a christmas present which is a bit random, and escapes.

Next scene includes the big ballad of “Where Are You Christmas?” which little Cindy Lou sings. She’s emotional and her hopes for christmas being filled with love may just completely smash. Her dream is to make sure that the Grinch enjoys his christmas too, so EVERYBODY in Whoville has a great christmas. Taylor Momsen played little Cindy Lou at the age of seven years old and what a delicate little voice she has. The song itself was actually written by Mariah Carey, James Horner & Will Jennings.

But The Grinch is lonely. He never wanted to admit it, even the echoes in his mountain house shout to him “You’re an Idiot.” As this is mainly a family film, the directors and producers didn’t want to make it depressing in parts, but you do feel sorry for the Grinch purely because he has no one except for Max the Dog. In reality though, we all help ourselves and learn to love ourselves before loving others, so the Grinch really needed to gain self-respect and love to make things easier for himself. Maybe even having a bath would be good for him? I mean, even his socks run away from him!

Even though people find the Grinch very different to them in Whoville, he still came from where all babies came from, the sky. That’s how it works in this film which makes it a whole other level of weird. He came from the same place as everybody else, which doesn’t make him that different after all. It did seem though, that he wasn’t actually intended to be in Whoville purely because his basket came roaring through and pretty much crashed into the place, but I guess, just because he’s green, doesn’t mean he’s mean! Sorry, I didn’t intend for that to rhyme…

One of my favourite scenes is when the Grinch is reading the book of Whoville people shouting.. “Hate, hate, hate… hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY.” We can all relate to this scene when we’re scrolling down social media sites and thinking “damn, why am I friends with you again?” Towards the middle of the film, everything is going well for a bit and the Grinch seems ok. “6.30pm, dinner with me, I can’t cancel that again” was actually improvised by Jim Carrey.

Martha May always has had a crush on the Grinch which is actually really nice because it proves that it’s not all about looks, which is true in the real world anyway. Christmas is about love and no wonder the Grinch didn’t like it to begin with purely because no one showed him love, except for his adopted mothers. They took him in even though they didn’t really have too and gave him love at a young age. We don’t really seem much of them as the Grinch grows up, but I don’t think it helped that at school, he was the main target for the bullies. As the Grinch is awarded the “Holiday Cheermeister Award”, the past comes back to haunt him. His prize is some shavers, and in the Grinch’s case they remind him of a time he’d rather forget… when he got bullied. It makes me kind of angry when the Mayor of Whoville claims to be nice when really we all know that he’s a bit of an arse and wanting to get rid of the Grinch once and for all.

Obviously, in pretty much most films, there’s a part where everything goes bad and a bit manic, and that part of this film is when the Grinch turns slightly bad again and “steals” christmas from the people of Whoville. This scene has many similarities to the iconic Tim Burton film “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. To keep it short and sweet, the Grinch stole christmas because people weren’t nice to him and he obviously felt judged and not wanted in the Whoville town. There’s a famous quote with “treat others as you wish to be treated” and the people of Whoville surely didn’t do that with the Grinch. No wonder he hated the festive season when it’s mainly to do with love and being with your loved ones. Hatred and loneliness made the Grinch steal christmas from the Whoville’s. 

After releasing that no matter what, even taking presents from people on Christmas morning, you can’t take away the love of christmas itself and the meaning behind it. The Grinch finally realises that he can’t stop anyone from loving others and christmas. Max the Dog starts kissing the Grinch and the Grinch lets him! He starts feeling emotions that he’s never felt before as his heart starts to beat. The Grinch then is reunited with the people of Whoville and they all join together to make one. He even gets together with Martha May! Aaahhh – always a happy ending. Merry Christmas!

Overall, fun film to watch and highly entertaining.
Score – 7/10

Happy holidays to all my followers and friends! Thanks for your support!

Chloe x

St Vincent – Masseduction (Review)

Multi instrumentalist St Vincent is back. Her fifth studio album “Masseduction” is now a very important album in St Vincent’s discography. It’s personal and takes a big step into Annie Clark’s life. Annie Clark is St Vincent. She has been using a stage name since 2006 and everybody now knows her for this. I find it very interesting when I hear an artist using a stage name, purely because it seems like they have two sides, maybe even an alter ego? (Hint hint Hannah Montana). The electro-pop goddess that is St Vincent gets called the female David Bowie. I do definitely see that, but I would say she’s more like the female David Byrne. Back to business, “Masseduction” is emotional and full of fear.

“You and me aren’t meant for this world”… but where are they meant to be? Hang On Me is full of unusual emotions of wondering where you’re supposed to be. It’s filled with extra terrestrial vibes and makes you feel like you’re floating in space. Lyrically, the lyrics are a bit cheesy and related to pop music, but the instrumentation is experimental and fun. St Vincent surely does have a futuristic pop sound that is very rare. I find this song very interesting because it kind of sounds like “Pay Me No Mind – Jeff Beck Remix”  off Jeff Beck’s album “Jeff” in parts of the song. The bass is filled with midi goodness and the orchestral piano really sets the love of who St Vincent is talking too. The way St Vincent pours her heart out in this song feels like a cry for help.

“Pills” is introduced by the famous model, Cara Delevingne”, who happens to be St Vincent’s now ex girlfriend. When the song first starts it sounds like a really weird advert that is constantly played on repeat and will never leave your brain. Apparently, this song is actually influenced by Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”, and I can kind of hear that. It’s humorous but definitely more experimental than Eminem. The distorted guitar really does make the song rock. St Vincent is actually a really underrated guitarist. Just over half way through the song, it goes into a really weird half beat timing and then starts playing chords that sound like they could be on a bloody Foo Fighters song. St Vincent is weird and definitely surprising. The ending sounds like a complete rip off of “Eclipse” by Pink Floyd, but the way that St Vincent does it really makes her pull it off. Very interesting and fun song. It’s definitely growing on me.

The title track of the album “Masseduction” is a play on words. Mass seduction, my seduction, seduction of the masses. It could be linked with being seduced or even being the seducer. The song samples the bonus track of the album “Power Corrupts” with Toko Yasuda doing vocals in Japanese. The song sounds like a really hip cheerleading song. It’s electronically wonderful. This is definitely a song that proves St Vincent is an underrated guitarist, she uses harmonically easy guitar chords which complete the song. It’s straight to the point and its noisy and rough. This song is probably the definition of “Art Rock”. If Daft Punk were a full rock band…this is what they’d sound like. Love it.

The pulse of this song could definitely be linked with “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, which is really interesting.  The whole song really reminds me of something that Prince would have written. It’s really interesting to hear so many influences coming out of St Vincent’s music. “Sugarboy” could be a seductive song if you really think about it. The way St Vincent says “Sugarboy”, it really rolls off her tongue seductively. This song is filled with bold guitar riffs and heavy drums. It sits very well in the 80’s… but why the 80’s? Maybe it’s because St Vincent likes the sound of the 80’s and the over production that past artists used. This song is obviously very over produced, bit generic, but strong.

“Los Ageless” is a play on the city of Los Angeles and references lyrics from another song on this album; “New York”. It’s associated towards the genres of dance rock/new wave and the fuzzy guitar really compliments the song. The whole album is definitely more influenced by the 80’s compared to other era’s. I don’t personally like this song as much as some of the others on the album. It feels a bit too structured for St Vincent and not as experimental as her other stuff. The production on this is good though. The album was actually produced by St Vincent and Jack Antonoff (out of the band “fun.”) I really like the ending with how the chords are descending, gives the song an “Eleanor Rigby” kind of feel. The spoken words really set the mood.

 

An ode to St Vincent’s friend, Johnny. “Happy Birthday, Johnny” could be took as another interpretation of her song “Prince Johnny” which featured on her last album “St Vincent.” It’s quite a down in the dumps song, because you can tell that whoever Johnny may be, they’re depressed and very close to just giving up. It’s a delicate song but so very powerful. The lyrics in the song tells a story, which could be linked with the genre  of folk music. To summarise it up though, this song is very personal. With the lyric “Of course, I blame me”, St Vincent could be finding things hard too. It could all be linked with Anxiety maybe? An emotional ballad to say the least.

The next song on this lovely album, really showcases St Vincent’s vocal range. With stabbing vocals as well as the angelic noises of “Please.” The song is experimental and oozes with talent. It could also be linked towards a cry for help for the audience.. are we needing a Savior? Could St Vincent help us with her amazing music? I think so. The instrumentation is weird and could definitely be influenced by the Talking Heads again. If you haven’t checked out St Vincent’s album with David Byrne, I’d advise you do, it’s stunning.

Short but sweet, “New York” is about the mourning of a relationship ending. It was the first single released from “Masseduction” and St Vincent has been performing this song for over a year now. It’s unlike St Vincent’s previous material, but you can definitely hear her personal side coming out more in this album, maybe we’ll start calling her by her actual name, Annie Clark, if she carries on being so emotional and personal. Jokingly aside, it’s nice to hear a songwriter getting so deep with her songs as it definitely helps make a connection with an audience. Overall, the structure of the lyrics are really unique, but the actual chord progressions are harmonically bland. Feels like there’s something big missing from this song, maybe some more experimental jazz chords would sit nicer?

“Fear the Future” is definitely more like St Vincent’s previous material than the last song. We all fear the future, it’s a natural thing for a human because we have no idea what’s going to happen round the corner. A lovely drum and bass, futuristic genre sits over this song. The ending is really good too as it just stops out of the blues. I thought my internet had died or something, but no, it was just the song ending! St Vincent surprises me every time I hear something of hers. She’s a great songwriter, but definitely a better arranger.

Melodically, it feels like “Young Lover” is a bit flat. Something just doesn’t sound quite right. The way she sings “No, I” in the chorus is really original, but I don’t think it fits well with it harmonically, but then again a lot of St Vincent’s stuff is like that. Towards the ending when St Vincent goes up a few octaves to reach those notes, it just completely blew me away. I didn’t release she could sing that high! She definitely goes all Mariah on this song. Not the best song on the album, but still, it’s good.

The shortest song on the album is “Dancing with a Ghost.” It’s St Vincent’s first instrumental song since “We Put a Pearl in the Ground” off her debut album It fits lovely on the album, and it’s always really nice to have a short song to recapture the audience’s attention. As the song ends we go straight into “Slow Disco.” She includes the words “Dancing with a Ghost” in this song which is interesting as obviously the last song was called that. Once again, this is another delicate powerful song. It’s lovely to see St Vincent being so versatile with this album. It’s definitely growing on me with each time I listen to it.

Last track on the album we have “Smoking Section.” It’s very raw and the leads vocals are absolutely stunning. They’re quite dry as well (not got many effects on them) which definitely adds an eerie feel to the song. The slow pulse of the song reminds me of the drum beat’s they use in iconic “50 Shades of Grey” songs.. which is a bit unusual. The song is depressing and makes me feel sad for St Vincent because a lot of these songs on the album are related to her sadness and heartbreak. Maybe it’s her break up record from Cara Delevingne. It’s so good to hear her writing music again that is so raw. In the world we live in now, it’s so hard to be ‘original.’

 

 

The Japanese bonus track “Power Corrupts” sounds like a song that Thundercat would write. I mentioned this song earlier in the review. If you haven’t heard it, there’s a link above to it! It’s actually all a sample, technically, because it’s a japanese language reprise of the record’s title track “Masseduction.” With Toko Yasuda singing the lead and St Vincent singing the chorus. It’s a really cool song.

I am absolutely loving this album. It’s definitely one of the best albums of 2017.
I’m very excited to hear future albums by St Vincent as her music is so powerful

Score – 8/10
Favourite Tracks: Hang On Me, Pills, Masseduction, Sugarboy, Savior, Fear the Future, Smoking Section

The Pros and Cons of Busking, I’ve Discovered So Far.

One of my closest friends “pro’s and con’s” on busking… check it out! Check out his music too, insanely talented musician!

James Chatfield

I wanted to make an informational blog post to share with fellow artists who have considered busking and want to get a better understanding of what the pros and cons are for busking. So below are,
5 Reasons why Busking can be Hard and 5 Reasons to go and Busk Now!

Cons

Weather Dependency – the most obvious. Rain, wind, snow, hail, thunderstorms, frost etc. can negatively affect your busking sessions, and prevent you from busking. It’s not fun playing when your donation box gets flipped by the wind and the coins scatter rolling away in all directions (“my lunch money! nooooo!”). Or walking to a great spot, beautiful rays from the sun and then 20 minutes into playing, SPLASH a waterfall emerges and soaks your gear, frantically packing away, the moment you find someplace warm to dry off, the rain stops -.-
So to prevent this, prepare;
– Check the forecast on multiple websites/apps.
–…

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Robert Plant – Carry Fire (Review)

The Golden God himself is back with a stunning new album. His first solo album in three years, “Carry Fire” is raw and rhythmically oozing with influences. With help from his backing band “The Sensational Space Shifters” who are sensational, if I do say so myself (no pun intended), they create a well produced album produced by the man himself, Robert Plant. Is there anything that he can’t do?

Eastern influenced, The May Queen tells a beautiful story about new beginnings, love in this instance. Rhythmically the song bounces and make me personally want to dance round a fire in the dark. The song title really interests me the most with this song because it’s a lyric from the iconic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven.” It’s nice to see Plant still referring to his past and obviously, we should never forget where we came from. The song itself is raw but professional to say the least. Robert’s vocals are breathed like and sensitive. Strong song to start the album off.

“New World…” sounds like something that Plant might have wrote in his early days. The harmonies are tight but simple which is lovely to listen too. If I was to try to categorise this song it would definitely be in the blues genre, but it definitely gives off a world music and also pop like vibe. It’s not a very complex song at all which is great easy listening. At the end of the song we have Robert making these weird chanting like vocals which sound very much like the noises he would make back in the day with his little band – Led Zeppelin. 

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than listening to a big folk ballad and “Season’s Song” is definitely that. It really captures Robert’s love for the music with the emotional and pure vocals. Even the backing band are pouring their emotions out with effortless instrumentation. Plant’s influences scatter from all over the decades, and this song fits perfectly in the folk-revival genre of 60’s. I think I really like this song purely because it reminds me of Going To California and we all know how much of a beautiful song that is.

Next we have “Dance With You Tonight” which is a bit cheesy and associated more towards Robert’s pop side. The song is definitely much better with the Sensational Space Shifters creating a big “hip” sound. It’s very modern with all the weird reverses going on throughout the song. The electric guitar tone is rich and heavy. It’s a very straight to the point sound which is great. They don’t just build the song up to nothing, they build until Robert starts singing more confidently. He sure knows how to control his voice, must be because of all the years practice.

“Carving Up the World Again…a wall and not a fence” is well, for starters, a long title. This song is political and a definite punch of attitude to some people in the world. I wonder who? The song itself definitely showcases Plant’s songwriting abilities as the lyrics are just wonderful. The arrangement of the song is natural which is always nice. The song isn’t complex which works well with the complicated lyrics over the top. It gives off a rock & roll kind of atmosphere throughout with Robert’s influences still pouring in.

Psychedelic and haunting are the two words I would describe “A Way With Words.” When the vocals enter with the piano it is really quite creepy and unusual which definitely makes the audience want to hear more. The only thing with this song is how it gets a bit repetitive as it doesn’t really go anywhere. The piano is absolutely stunning and definitely gives the song the lovely sound that it has. Dynamically the song is wonderful and unique.

The title track “Carry Fire” is surely one of the strongest songs on the album. I heard this for the first time when Robert Plant showcased some of his new songs on Jools Holland and the live version is gorgeous. The  studio version is almost just as good. There’s always something better about hearing/playing music live cause you get the complete vibe of the artists emotions through expressions. The song has a perfect balance throughout of different genres – folk, rock and eastern music. This song could have actually fitted really well on Plant’s last album, but it’s nice to hear it on this album to make it very versatile.

“Bones of Saints” is harmonically lovely. One of my personal favourites from the album. The mood Plant gives off is screaming with attitude but really warm at the same time, kind of like “please listen to what I’ve got to say.” The instruments are really tight, to be honest throughout the whole album they are, can’t fault the Sensational Shape Shifters at all, they know what they’re doing. The melody is really memorable “I said, no no no, no no no, no no no.” The backing vocals are kind of angelic and make the song so great.

“Keep It Hid” is electronic blues which is really cool. It feels like it’s something that Jeff Beck would write (as in the guitar parts). The instrumentation is great and really strong in that aspect, but I really don’t like how Robert’s phrasing some of his words/notes. It feels like there’s been loads of separate parts of the song just patched together to make this. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to hide? Get it… cause “Keep it Hid“….? I’ll stop now.

The second to last song features the extremely talented, “Chrissie Hynde” of The Pretenders. Bluebirds Over the Mountain” is actually a cover, the original is a rockabilly song by “Ersel Hickey.” Their vocals blent so nicely together with Chrissie’s vocals being very prominent in the chorus. Plant and Hynde make this experimental version of the song really rock and it surely makes you sway along. Foot tapping goodness!

The last song of the album is eerie and moody. “Heaven Sent” is about a longing to do other things. I completely see where Robert is coming from in this song because I write songs to make me feel better and they do help, until I need to write another song about the exact same thing. It’s the feeling of leaving something unfinished and longing to move onto another topic. The instrumentation in this song is dark and very Radiohead like, which I really like. It’s a bit of a depressing end to an album though and feels a bit sleepy.

Overall a lovely album by Planty,  hoping to maybe see some of these songs sometime, especially Carry Fire & Bones of Saints. Looking forward to his next album and the one after that. Rock isn’t dead, it’s just evolved to a different stone…

Score – 7/10
Favourite Tracks: The May Queen, New World, Season’s Song, Carving Up the World Again…a wall and not a fence, A Way with Words, Carry Fire, Bones of Saints, Bluebirds Over the Mountain.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Polygondwanaland (Review)

Well, that’s a word you wouldn’t be able to say while drunk…
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are back after not releasing music in three months (that’s actually a long time in King Gizzard world…) Polygondwanaland is a mouthful, but physically and mentally, it’s some of King Gizzard’s best work. With already releasing three albums this year, it still surprises me of how many songs they must have in their back catalog. They’ve promised to release five albums this year, and my god, I actually believe them now.

“King Gizzard” released this album on the 17th November with the description; “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Makes tapes, make CDS, make records.” Is this a statement? Are the lads after something? Or are they literally just being kind? But on a serious note what the lads are trying to do is to try to engage with music in a “different” way. When I heard that they were releasing an album for free and for everybody to have, there was a little bit of doubt in me. Is this album going to be as good as their other stuff or just plain bad? Well… it’s bloody brilliant. I really look up to King Gizzard for doing this because it’s different and in a way, a lovely gesture, but obviously this review isn’t on that concept of the album, it’s about the MUSIC itself. It’s weird cause you’d think as it’s their 12th studio album that they’ve released, they’ve probably showcased their best stuff by now, but King Gizzard just keep surprising everyone with fresh new brilliant songs.
Do they have the “Pick of Destiny” that Tenacious D had to write their masterpieces in the hit film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny? Who knows, but I don’t care, King Gizzard are incredible (and I’d love for them to make a film.)

We kick off the album with “Crumbling Castle” which takes us on a psychedelic trip through its concept of, well, a castle crumbling. You can actually see a castle on their album cover of “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” but the castle isn’t crumbling. The production of this song is right up in your face. The bass and drums tick away to give this really weird psychedelic fuzz. This experimental song feels like it’s just gonna end every 2 minutes but they keep building it up again and again. It gets to a part where it’s at its peak (8.54) with the bass fully driving the song… this is definitely a proper head banging moment. As all the instruments basically die at 9.05 to this weird sounding Black Sabbath part which is heavy and dark. King Gizzard are definitely on drugs. How do humans write this sort of music? It’s genius.

The title track “Polygondwanaland” is harmonically clever and catchy. The word “Polygondwanaland” isn’t as hard to say as it seems actually. We are taking into the world of Polygondwanaland which is mystical and psychedelic. This song actually reminds me a bit of Tenacious D again when JB “travels” to the land of the Sasquatch, but obviously this song is a bit more serious than that. They even use a lovely acoustic guitar solo accompanied by a flute. Polygondwanaland feels like a real place. I want to go!

“The Castle in the Air” is introduced through spoken word by Leah Senior who featured on the King Gizzard album “Murder of the Universe.”

“The river opened her mouth and spat into a vast sea larger and bluer than a cloudless sky. Muscular, prodigious, immortal. But our vessel was invulnerable. It was well-built, the boat rocked me into sleep and I floated through a deep dream, smooth sailing through the castle in the air.”

Having spoken word in a song really stands out to me because it gives off a more serious feel for the song even though sometimes you can’t take King Gizzard seriously. The name of the track could be a reference to the book “Gulliver’s Travels” where the main protagonist travels around the globe and comes across a land called “Laputa” which is a flying island. The song itself is very 70’s progressive rock sounding, we could even compare it to the likes of “King Crimson” and “Gentle Giant.” It’s a short song for King Gizzard but it still has a strong effect like the long songs too. 

“Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet” gives off the same vibes as the previous songs on the album, as it feels like this song ties everything together. It’s basically all the parts put together to create this weird sound. They even use clever harmonies in this. It’s a passing song to help our journey through the worlds that King Gizzard are taking us through. Not a personal favourite of mine, but still a strong song.

Next up we have “Inner Cell” and it’s great. It’s eastern influenced and used some really clever notes. King Gizzard are influenced by pretty much everything and I really admire any musician/artists who are open to all influences. There really is hope for music when bands release music like this. It’s guitar, bass, drums and vocal music, so everybody’s happy. There’s a lot of bands out their that make me stoop and think “how do they compose music like this?” and King Gizzard may even be the top of that list.

“Loyalty” starts with a Jean-Michel Jarre kind of synth sound which is very 80’s and it’s even a bit Stranger Things sounding which is very “hip” at the moment. The song seems to be about a god whose people” stop believing in him and he starts getting a bit upset. As the song goes on, the god starts killing off his “people” and it also seems that this “god” guy loves himself and thinks he’s the best. The lyrics are scary with the lyric “I will drink their blood” being a very prominent part of the song. With all this points, it’s strange because the song is groovy in a way that it’s hard to dance too. You don’t really want to dance to it because the song lyrics are uncomfortable, but at the same time you’re aching to dance to it. When the bass goes to the octave notes, it’s harmonically impressive. This song kind of reminds me of the early days of Pink Floyd; it’s very “Syd Barrett” weird.

The study and measurement of time is “Horology.” The song is progressive which is funny, because progressive music can be determined through the time signatures played. I find this song progressive with how the singers are voicing their emotions in a rhythmical way. Fun song.

“Tetrachromacy” is the beginning of seeing a fourth colour whereas a normal human would see up to three standard colours. I read into tetrachromacy while writing this few to try to understand it more and it just made me so confused (not very hard.) The guys of King Gizzard are so clever to just even THINK of writing a song about tetrachromacy, seriously what goes through their heads when they want to write a song/concept album, it’s absolutely crazy!

“Searching” introduces the character who wants to see the invisible. This song is linked with the previous, it’s a stepping stone to try to find the “fourth colour.” Even though the concept of the song is searching for the “fourth colour,” you could interpret this song to be about “searching” for something that you’ve longed for. This is probably my least favourite song on the album, but without this song, the concept of the last three songs wouldn’t work.

The last song of the ten track album is “The Fourth Colour.” This song takes us back to King Gizzard’s true sound – fast, experimental and fun music. The Fourth Colour seems to be about finally having the ability to see a “fourth colour” unlike humans who typically view the world in three colours as I said before. This song makes the audience believe that the person who’s seeing the fourth colour has unlocked a some sort of new power. The chords used in his song are upbeat and creative. As we reach the 4 minute mark, we get a weird sounding Mongolian throat singing part/humming noise which is really trippy with backing noises of what seems to be “wind” until that stops. The drums come rolling in with a drum fill, then the guitars start roaring in and we’re fully back into the song. What a song to finish the album off.

Imagine King Gizzard writing a sad/slow/4 chord song … yeah, I can’t imagine that either. Overall, really great album by King Gizzard once again

Produced by Stu Mackenzie.
Score – 9/10
Favourite Tracks – Crumbling Castle, Polygondwanaland, The Castle in the Air, Inner Cell, Loyalty, Tetrachromacy, The Fourth Colour

Larkin Poe – Peach (Review)

Larkin Poe are sisters, Rebecca & Megan Lovell. They first started out in 2005 and created a bluegrass band called “The Lovell Sisters” with their other sister, Jessica Lovell. The Lovell Sisters released 2 independent albums and toured for numerous years before disbanding. In 2010, Rebecca and Megan decided to have a fresh start and create Larkin Poe and, well, the rest is history for the girls. Rebecca sings and plays electric guitar and Megan sings backing and plays electric guitar too, but mainly (through what I can see) plays a lap steel guitar. The sisters play a wide range of other instruments too at great talents. The girls frequently release music and “Peach” is their latest release. Released on the 29th of September through Tricki-Woo Records, this album is raw and exciting. To me, these girls have started getting their name here there and everywhere this year and every time I go on Facebook, someone is sharing a video of their’s. The power of social media is incredible, and it’s obviously helping the girls of Larkin Poe get viral, and so they should, they’re talented, sassy and they R O C K.

Originally done by Robert Johnson, the Larkin Poe sisters remake the classic Come On In My Kitchen” to give you all a taste of what the girls are about. Simplicity. Blues is a very simple genre, if you over exaggerate the blues, it can be messy, but this adaptation of the great Robert Johnson tune is elegant and sexy. The song is simply about Robert Johnson sitting alone in his kitchen and he tries to get his lover to come join him before the rain start outside. Even the meaning of the song is simple. The sleazy guitar work in this song is probably my favourite sounding guitar part on the album. The notes scream, but only when needed.

“Freedom” is an original from the girls and it’s pretty strong. The song is indie blues but definitely not roots blues, it’s modernised and fresh. The vocal melodies are quirky and roll of the tongue especially “…feels like he’ll never be.” The backing vocals are tight and suit the song to kind of give it a “pop” sound too which is interesting. Best thing about the blues is the catchiness behind it. If a song is catchy, you’re obviously going to be singing it for a good couple of weeks. I guess the BAD thing about blues is that it’s pretty much all been done before or it sounds similar to other songs, but it’s really nice to see the girls of Larkin Poe given it a fresh new face.

We all know the next song but the girls have really made it their own, which is great. “Black Betty” is an African-American work song from the 20th century but most people know it as the Lead Belly song. This version of the song feels like it doesn’t really go anywhere, it’s a bit boring. The vocals are strong, Rebecca has so much attitude which is definitely what you need with blues, but this version doesn’t stand out to me at all.

“Look Away” is another original from the sisters. It’s definitely the most pop/electronic sounding song on the album so far, which is cool because the girls have their own influences and always make sure to put a little bit of a twist into their music. The song itself isn’t very complex but it definitely works.

A cover of classic Son House song, Larkin Poe’s version of “Preachin Blues” is amazing. It’s one of the strongest songs on the album and really does make you tap your feet to the foot thumping rhythm. It’s powerful and very “low-end” which I love because having a low-frequency really can capture anyone’s ear. The guitar’s in this song (and throughout the album) especially are tight and the guitar solo in Look Away is melodically crafty. It’s not too complex, but it’s not too simple, really nice work. This song is old and it’s great to see how the blues has evolved and reached these two girls. They understand the roots and the emotions behind the music that you need for the blues and my goodness, they’ve got the perfect attitude for this song.

“Cast ‘Em Out” is a soft blues song with lovely lyrics that Rebecca delicately sings rhythmically. The song feels like it has a lot of influence through work songs, maybe someone’s working on the train tracks and singing this song to make time go a bit quicker, who knows and I love that about music, because there’s no right or wrong answer with questions like that. The girls are definitely going back to southern roots of blues for this song but it still sounds so new. Love it.

The next song is dark and instrumentally, it sounds like it could be a Queens of the Stone Age song, but with the soft lyrics in the verses that Rebecca sings, it gives the Larkin Poe sound for “Pink & Red” ; sassy and fierce. When Rebecca is talking for the main chorus hook, it gives the song a bit more attitude and even gives it a sense of rap music… I’m definitely getting some sort of Linkin Park vibes from that part… strange.

“John the Revelator” is a traditional gospel blues call and response song and the Larkin Poe’s version of it is pretty moody. It’s repetitive and feels like it could have built up to something really impressive, but it just stays the same all the way through. I’m personally not liking this version, but if you like moody dark blues, I’m sure you will.

The guitar fuzz of “Wanted Woman / AC/DC” creates this electronic kind of sound for the simple blues. The beginning is very Black Keys/White Stripes sounding which probably makes me personally like it even more, but at the same time, this song is very generic for the girls and not their strongest. The octave guitar tones at 2.42 are stunning and capture the second part of the song “AC/DC” which is definitely the higher energy part of the song. I’ve watched some live videos of Larkin Poe playing this song and it has so much more energy than the studio version. Don’t get me wrong the studio version has energy, but I guess there’s nothing more than live music. I really like how the song has two parts, it definitely makes it more interesting.

“Tom Devil” is the last song on the album and honestly, it doesn’t really give it the best sending off as a last song should do on an album. The harmonies are sweet and the chant like vocals are always a crowd pleaser live because everyone can sing along. Once again though, the song feels like it could have been bigger then it is. The eerie sounds from the backing instruments (organ/percussion) are great as a build up, but I was just waiting for the guitar parts to come screaming in to make a big finish for the album. But there’s nothing. Is that a good or bad thing? I guess if there were guitars in this song it would make it predictable, so I’ll give it to the Larkin Poe girls because they must have been like “actually… let’s surprise them.”

Overall, rhythmically and melodically a simple album and catchy. Definitely going to be keeping my eyes and ears on Larkin Poe and seeing where the sisters may take us with their music. Very talented girls vocally and musically.

Score – 7/10

Favourite Tracks: Come On In My Kitchen, Freedom, Preachin’ Blues, Cast ‘Em Out, Pink & Red.