Audrey – EP (Review)

Playing in and around Hull, as Audrey, the original rock and roll band are destined to be stars. The band started off as a jam between the songwriter and drummer, then before they knew it, a 4 piece band were in the pipelines. They promise to hold an energetic and engaging live set up and you can purely hear that in their studio work too. Released only last Saturday (20th October), the hugely anticipated EP is strong, with them completely selling out their EP launch too.

The powerhouse that is “See the Light” enters sounding like a pure, live session recorded while the band were in their element of just jamming together. They create a contrast of classic rock influences such as Tom Petty & The Rolling Stones, which highlights strongly with this track. Vocal screams from the singer are portrayed in a way that you can hear every emotion he’s singing. As for the song subject, it’s never really put down onto paper what it is. I feel that it’s about something along the lines of trying to get out of something you don’t want to be involved in and seeing the light is a way that you know that everything is going to be ok in the end. 

“She Says” was released as their debut single, and it’s a proper bluesy number. The instrumentation reminds me of ZZ Top mixed with an Oasis 90’s rock song structure. There’s a psychedelic aura going on through this song that takes you through a type of haze. It’s definitely the most catchiest song on the record so far purely because the rhythm is in your face and there’s no escaping it. She Says seems to be about a relationship gone sour and this song is the revenge track. Similar to something that Alanis Morissette did with the whole of Jagged Little Pill…

“Watch Me Go” is more alternative rock than rock n roll. With comparisons to Foo Fighters, this track really showcases how well the band gel together. Everything is neatly put together with the big arrangement. My favourite part has to be when everything slowly fades away and we’re left with a guitar squeal into a lovely, slow solo. The solo is covered with a subtle fuzz and a quick delay after. As the solo gradually goes on, the song starts building again. A roaring scream from the lead vocalist exclaims that the section has come to an end and the real breakdown evolves. The 5:04 minute song comes to an end with a face melting solo… Lovely work.

“Glad to Be” is a completely different approach to their music and was not what I was expecting their last song to be like. It surprised me that much that it’s actually become my favourite track off the EP. Versatility shines through this song as it’s folky feel tells us a story of love. Audrey have really captured the essence that the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin did with their live shows… they’d rock it up for a bit, then halfway through, would strip down their songs and make an acoustic set. It’s a real clever thing to do as you get two different kinds of people, who like different types of music listening to your music. As a whole, I’m really glad to have reviewed this EP because of it being so pure. You can literally feel every emotion.

Favourite Tracks: See the Light, She Says, Glad to Be
Score: 7/10

https://www.facebook.com/audreytheband/

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The Dollymops – Gap Year Tourists (Review)

You may never have heard of The Dollymops, but for any newbies, they’re a 4 piece, indie-punk band from Oxford. Drawing influences from the classic indie prodigies that are The Libertines, The Strokes, The Clash and that small band from Manchester called Oasis, The Dollymops second EP has that refreshing indie sound that every indie band strives to have. While still sounding quite vintage, the band have modernised the noughties indie sound with attitude.

“Plastic Proletariat” tells a story of a plastic (in other words “fake”), working class man. You know the band are quite angry with who ever this song is about with them even calling him a “condescending twat.” The angst and the pure indie accent that the singer portrays in this song identifies the song as a pure indie anthem. You can tell from the moment the song starts that this is such an important track in the Dollymops discography. Perhaps it could be a stepping stone towards a more rock and roll approach to their music. 

“Pied Piper” instantly reminds me of elements from The Kooks. It’s an upbeat, bouncy song that makes you tap your foot from the get go. As the vocals are introduced, I can’t help but think that Sean Stevens (lead vocalist) sounds similar to Morrissey. As for the instrumentation, it’s pretty straight forward all the way through and doesn’t really escalate. The subject of the song is situated about a “Pied Piper” and again, doesn’t really escalate to explain the true meaning. Perhaps it could be a metaphor and the pied piper is simply someone who encourages people to follow them and copy their actions. It’s never really stated properly what it’s about, making the audience feeling a little bit unsure of what’s going on. 

3 seconds of pure silence introduces “Addicts” before a melodic guitar riff enters with an identifiable punk tone. The chord progression is moved quickly and feels slightly rushed over the vocals. As the whole band enters, the mix of the song sounds like the band have recorded a live version in a garage, which I find really cool, you get the rawness of the band that way.. They probably didn’t actually record it in a garage though, it just sounds like it. Before we know it, the song has come to an end a bit too quickly. I feel that the song was screaming for a bigger arrangement to another world of possibilities for the band. 

The title track of the EP “Gap Year Tourists” rounds off the EP lovely. It’s a feel good song with lyrics full of wit and charm. The delivery of the song is simply just fun. This song would simply get any Dollymops fan on the dance floor straight away, just from the first bar. I can really hear The Smiths in this song and the post-punk vibe that’s radiating off this song is filled with nostalgia. A well crafted EP of some great songs. Their weak points aren’t even weak points, they are pure qualities of their work. I’d say the band need to get slightly tighter as there’s always room for improvement with any artist. The charisma of the band have really opened my eyes and they’ve definitely got a new fan over here. 

Favourite Tracks: Plastic Proletariat, Addicts, Gap Year Tourists
Score: 7/10

https://www.facebook.com/TheDollymopsOfficial/

https://www.instagram.com/thedollymopsband/

Vertical Noise – It’s Not What You Think (Review)

Vertical Noise are known as a power trio. A simple layout of vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Sometimes, music is best kept simple and this band certainly showcase the simplicity in their line up. Saying that, they take influences from bands such as Muse, Blood Red Shoes and I can really hear the rawness of The Sex Pistols Queens of the Stone Age in their music too. 

“Club Music” begins the EP with a drum and bass beat that makes you believe that the song is going to be like, well, club music. This only lasts around 4 seconds before entering the actual song. It’s heavy and a big track. With different sections sealing the song together, it’s noisy and very punk. They rebel against the mainstream system with lyrics such as “I don’t like club music, I think it’s a waste of time.” It’s very opinionated, making it political in a way that people could disagree, making you like the song more because of how it’s so diverse.

The next track features comical behaviour with lyrics such as “you’re batshit crazy in your Howard Hughes dressing gown.” “Nice Stuff” has a very careless nature. The imperfect vocals make the song push that little bit more with what sounds like a teenager having a bad tantrum. With the vocals sounding similar to Johnny Rotten (The Sex Pistols), the 4 minute song doesn’t dynamically build as much as hoped. The continued momentum of the song gets a bit repetitive until the song cuts out to a dark, melodic bass line before the other instruments return. I personally really like the cleverness of the lyrics and how sometimes they don’t fit in time with the music, and it  makes it uneasy to listen to but nevertheless, you still carry on listening to find out more.

With what sounds like Tom Morello having a guitar battle with Matt Bellamy, you’re automatically glued to hear how “Carbon Copy” turns out. I think the band have tried to sound similar to Rage Against the Machine and Beastie Boys in this track, which is always a plus. The lyrics are clever again, and sound like they’re sung by River Cuomo (Weezer). You could say that this band are taking so many influences and just mixing it together to get their sound. Never in my life would I have thought to have mixed vocals like River’s with in your face guitar madness like Tom Morello, but these things happen I guess and Vertical Noise have created this pure cool, original sound.

“Twatellite Navigation” (a rude version of Satellite?) is a bit forced in my eyes to begin with and the more than 5 second pause in the song is a bit too much and makes the song feel like it’s a completely different track. Maybe that’s what the band were wanting, which is cool, but as a personal preference, it feels a bit forced and wanting it to work well. The beginning is slow and features similar tones to Foo Fighters guitar tones in their track “World” (which is a very underrated track of their’s btw.) Anyway, towards the end of Twatellite Navigation, there’s another pause which I feel just doesn’t need to be there as long as it is. The song subject is never really identified fully, and the only thing identified is to “Do what you want, do what pleases you” which leads back to the careless, attitude of a punk teenager that the band keep portraying.  

“Countless Video Interruptions” is the longest track on the EP and probably features the biggest sound on the whole EP too. The first two verses are the exact same lyrics but sung differently which makes it sound like he’s actually singing something completely different. Clever tactic right there. I really like how they simply interrupt the “Countless video interrupt..” with big guitars and adrenaline. It was slightly expected to happen but that just makes it more eager to listen to see if it DOES happen and it did. As much as the track is strong, it feels similar to all the others and doesn’t really show much versatility for the band. 

The title track of the EP; “It’s Not What You Think” is a lot more of a softer approach for the band. The subtle harmonies are really quite prominent and lovely to hear. As the song builds, the band still situate in the lovely, stereo delay aura of the song. It really is a nice track to end such a loud EP. It is definitely needed after the great noise before. The love song wraps up the EP in a way that it reassures you that the band are simply “Not what you think.” 

Favourite Tracks: Club Music, Carbon Copy, It’s Not What You Think
Score: 6.5/10

https://officialverticalnoise.bandcamp.com/album/its-not-what-you-think-ep
https://www.facebook.com/verticalnoise/

Jorja Smith – Lost & Found (Review)

The 21-year-old from Walsall is on her way to a global status. Having already collaborated with artists such as Drake, Stormzy and Kendrick Lamar, her debut album contains her best work yet in my eyes and showcases her originality. Released back in June of this year and lasting only 45 minutes, this R&B album is filled with all the great aspects you’d want in one. The album took 2 years to record with Jorja co-writing most of the songs with other artists. She’s only 21 and is completely extraordinary, and I’m sure she’ll be like a fine red wine, which gets even better with age.

“Lost & Found” is the song that made me fall in love with Jorja’s music. The production on the track begins with a wave of clarity, before we hear “yeah like that, sounds cool” from Jorja. With her common accent, it makes the song more real. Angelic vocals suits the atmosphere, grooving into an effective beat cementing that this album has successfully landed. A subtle key change takes us into the actual song making the introduction that extra special. Jorja wrote this when she was only 15. She wrote it as she felt a bit lost when she went to London for the first few times, but she found herself while she was there and adapted to her surroundings. Hearing the maturity of her voice blending in with the soulful, chilled vibes of the song puts the cherry on top of a beautifully, crafted track.

Introducing the next song, we hear humming, which we don’t really think much of it. It wasn’t until I did a bit of research on “Teenage Fantasy” and found out that the recording of the so-called humming was actually recorded by Jorja while she was babysitting at 16. Finding out this fact makes the song a whole lot clearer to the so-what nature of some teenagers and it definitely brings back some nostalgic memories from my teen days. The first two lines of the song deals with the story of “you weren’t the person I thought you were,” we all know someone in our lives who turned out to be the complete opposite of what we thought. Teenage Fantasy hits the nail on the head completely. When we’re young, we want to be in love and feel that we’d only be happy if we were in a relationship. I can say this, as I did the exact thing. As time passes by, you realise that you have to love and accept yourself before you can love someone else and the way that Jorja portrays this message is mesmerizing.

Confronting and having the courage to say goodbye to someone takes some guts, especially when they meant/mean a lot to you. The story of “Where Did I Go?” explains exactly that. The production on this track is slightly more upbeat from the percussion being so prominent, and it makes sense as this track was produced by Sam Wills whereas the first two tracks were done by Charlie Perry. As much as this is a good track, I feel the melody is a bit predictable and not as thought out as the first two tracks. The subjects behind the song is effective though.

“February 3rd” is a lot more mellow than any track so far, making it a whole new direction for the album. “There’s a life outside I didn’t know” means that Jorja is now at an age where she is seeing things differently, and a lot more real. When we’re young, we hardly have any fears and see things in a completely different light, and it’s when we get older that we realise that we were in this little safe haven through our younger years. After the first lyric, the song changes into another relationship scenario. This travel showcases that Jorja feels that the guy is playing games and isn’t taking the relationship seriously. After all, a relationship is for both sides, not one-sided at all.

Finally, Jorja has left the boy in “On Your Own” who’s been giving her grief and he’s on HIS own now. Jorja has essences in her voice that sound like Sia, especially when she sings “on your own tonight.” I find Jorja as a lazy, slurry singer in this track, which is a complete positive. It gives her voice that attitude the song needs. The song doesn’t really award her range as such, it shows off her tone and control though. While she gets quite personal in this, the smooth beats make the song dynamically work. I would like this song to build a bit further though, it feels like it’s craving a stronger arrangement.

Well, you guessed it, “The One” is another song about a boy. As much as the songs are really great, they’re getting a bit repetitive with the subjects. The song deals with Jorja looking back on her past relationships that have failed and how she hopes she doesn’t become dependant on a person again. I do really like however that Jorja features “Choosers, Takers and Begging Heartbreakers” in the lyrics. Choosers are people who simply choose to love without a thought. Takers are people who know exactly what they want, but don’t feel the need to show it back. Begging Heartbreakers are people who simply beg to have someone in their life, just to throw it back in their faces and hurt them.

Moody, melancholiness are highlighted through “Wandering Romance” which suits the subject of an unstable relationship. It feels like the big ballad on the album, but at the same time, it still makes you want to dance. Usually the audience just want to watch and listen to ballad’s, but you can tell this song will also be a hit for our inner dancers at Jorja’s live shows. Saying that, I feel this may be the weakest track on the album purely because it doesn’t personally take me anywhere. I don’t feel anything emotional with it. Plus the constant background voice that sings “bruh” is quite annoying.

Arguably Jorja’s biggest track to date, as in popularity, “Blue Lights” has a big arrangement and warm production. The song questions why people should feel guilty about something if they haven’t actually done anything wrong. “Don’t you run when you hear the sirens coming, when you hear the sirens coming” is a fitting lean towards Dizzee Rascals “Sirens” and later in the song, it actually features a sample of the song. The song has a big message with people quoting that it was written for her friend who had a knife in their bag. We don’t know exactly what the song was written about and that makes it a whole lot more interesting. It gels the facts together that it can be about anything you want it o be, making it a lot more personal. Blue lights could link towards police cares as well. The song isn’t innocent, it’s in your face, dark and serious. The song was released two years prior to the album, so no wonder it’s so big.

“Lifeboats (Freestyle) was written with Tom Misch (which you can instantly recognise by the jazz-like chords.) The track explains how people drown in their own thoughts and difficulties in life. Whereas Lifeboats are the imagery to how we escape, but if we put that into our life’s perspective, what is a lifeboat a metaphor towards? Our close ones? Music? Who knows, we never really find out, leaving it unfinished and allowing us as the audience to get more personal to reflect the song in our own lives. The song is also linked to Kanye West’s track “All Falls Down” which channels the same context as Jorja’s… we now know where this song was inspired from. It also links to the title track Lost & Found with the first lyric being “Why do we all fall down?” I love the charisma of Jorja’s common Walsall accent in this track. It makes it more human and intimate. 

The next track is an acoustic, sad song. Jorja sings to someone who she’s lost that she’s in pain and simply misses them. “Goodbyes” are one of the hardest things any human being has to do. The song is emotional and makes me think of the people I’ve lost in my life and really does hit close to home. There’s a lot of R&B singers who have tried writing songs in this similar structure which musically works, but their versions haven’t been as emotional as this. In Jorja’s case, she didn’t actually lose anyone, but her friend did. She wrote the song in her shoes and really emphasises the way her friend felt. Sometimes we never get chance to say goodbye to someone and show them in their last moments how much they meant to us, that’s why you should always show someone you love, that you love them. I’m getting all cheesy now, but there’s no other way to say it really. 

“Tomorrow” is like a sequel to Goodbyes. Wishing that all things will make sense tomorrow is like pushing your dilemmas to the next day because you don’t want to sort them out there and then. A lot of the tracks on the album are either mid-beat or downbeat, this song is slow and doesn’t really escalate in any way. Vocally, Jorja’s voice is heavenly and you can hear her imperfections which makes it a whole lot more honest, but as a whole arrangement, it doesn’t really work for me. Same goes for the last song on the album “Don’t Watch Me Cry.” It’s still keeping that mellow momentum going strong. The song features emotions that are heard while being left in a relationship. Jorja strives her emotion of past relationships and her love life throughout the whole of her album, but she doesn’t dwell on it say as much as, lets say, Adele does. Adele makes her songs sad to pursue her emotion that little bit more across. Whereas with Jorja she makes it more aware that it’s ok to be upset when broken-hearted and that everything will be alright in the end. 

Concluding the album, it’s strong and really proves that love is such an important emotion.

Favourite Tracks: Lost & Found, Teenage Fantasy, Where Did I Go? February 3rd, On Your Own, Blue Lights, Lifeboats (Freestyle), Goodbyes

Score: 8/10

Phi Yaan Zek’s Album Launch Review – 15th September 2018

Photo taken by Me on Steve Lawson's camera!

reality.jpg

Located on a warm Saturday night at Kidderminster College, the night began with one of the college’s talented bands; Hey Jester. The Hey Jester boys are really causing a stir with their progressive rock music. The songs. The image. The sound. They have the whole package. Think early Muse but with incredible Myles Kennedy like vocals. Even had people coming up to me after the show saying that they’d go watch Hey Jester play their own headline show, it was THAT good of a set. Frontman, Mirron Webb was pretty busy all night seeing as he featured in Phi Yaan Zek’s all star band…

Well, what can I say… it’s been 5 days after the show and I’m still speechless from Phi’s set. Incredible. With Phi playing electric/acoustic guitar and vocals, his backing band featured Steve Lawson on Bass (who actually stood up and played.. this was a surprise to say the least), Andy Edwards on Drums, Ola Olsson on Trumpet, Lalle Larson on Keyboard and Mirron Webb on Guitar. They kicked the show off with a new track off Reality Is My Play Thing called “Alive.” It’s fast and full of charisma. The week before the album launch, the band actually filmed a music video for Alive which features zombies… It’s rather mad. It will be released soon. Once the song was finished, there was a huge roar come from the crowd of praise towards the band and there’s no doubt that the momentum stayed all the way to the end of the gig as it truly did. The 3 minute song is filled with many notes to say the least. It’s in your face constantly and you can’t ignore it and why would you want too? It’s wonderful and hearing the song live really lived up to the expectation of the studio version. There were a few moments where Phi’s microphone feedbacked but the sound was sorted out quite quickly.

“Kindling” has a memorable chorus which I found myself singing when performed live. It’s the killer riff that is the most insane thing about the song. What an introductory to the band. I know that some of the band members had said that learning Phi’s songs has been one of the hardest things they’ve ever learnt, but my goodness, they pulled off a brilliant show. “Reunion” was a stand out track for the show. It’s a scary song anyway but seeing the musicians actually perform it was even scarier. Think Frank Zappa but slightly madder… it is possible as it’s Phi. The song was released on Phi’s 2007 album “Anomalies.” This song just put the cherry on the insanity cake. Wow.

“Frequency Calling” is another newbie and was performed near enough the exact same as the record. Starting off with Phi’s lyrics “no signal.. seems broken, your message is forgotten, so borrow this radio and allow your dreams to flow”, the song begins acoustically and even features a superb acoustic guitar solo from Phi. It then reaches it’s peak when the full band are introduced. I really enjoyed sitting back and seeing where this song takes me mentally. The interference of the song took the audience through a bizarre journey of accepting yourself and things around you.

Now… “Ecstasies of the Starlight Self” is completely prog down to a tee. It’s one of Phi’s best songs in my eyes because it’s just so unusual. The studio version is featured on Phi’s album with Marco Minneman “Dance with the Anima.” The band made the 1:51 track into an over 3 minute epic of solos coming out of solos. It’s Phi’s scat like vocals in the song which just makes it so much fun. The drum and bass style drum parts are so important in this song creating a fast pace.

The song makes you dance, just look at Phi in this video.

Starting off the next song with something different.. anyone for a game of I spy? Phi picked an audience member for a game of “I Phi” which lead into probably the funkiest song of the set. It’s Mirron’s rhythmical guitar part that sticks out straight away with a memorable wah effect added to the sound. This is a track where it was lovely to see the band wander into their own comfort zones and play their own, unique solos. I Phi was definitely one of the best tracks on the night with the audience applauding so loudly at the end that it actually hurt my ears! The genuine fretless bass sound was clear from the get go. Sometimes people just use programme effect on a pedal to get a fretless sound, but not with Steve Lawson, he has the real thing. 

One of my absolute favourites of Phi’s is “Wondrous Self” purely because of the chord progression. Harmonically, the song is clever and looks so easy to play very from all the musicians on the stage. They made every song look so easy to play which is completely inspiring. If I had a go at one Phi Yaan Zek song, I think my hands would fall off. The song seemed to have gone by quickly, probably because we all enjoyed it so much and they say time flies by when you’re having fun. The next track was simply put as a wash of all emotions… EVER. It’s angry. It’s happy. It’s a rollercoaster. It’s like a…. “Brainwash.” Off Phi’s debut album released over 21 years ago, the song reminds me of something along the lines of The Prodigy covering a Gentle Giant track. It’s dark but also so bright to listen too. 

Featuring Phi back on the acoustic guitar, “Subtle” is a faint movement towards a soft song. It’s always nice to hear a slow song after listening to complete madness of Phi’s other discography and Subtle just proves that he can write in different types of moods, making him a very versatile artist, which we already knew. Subtle featured an absolutely gorgeous bass solo from Steve Lawson, I was completely mesmerised. Swiftly onto the next song, “Break the Ice” let Phi sit back a bit with the guitar work ever so slightly and let Mirron take control with an impressive guitar solo. Break The Ice sits exactly in the middle of the first half of Phi’s latest album and it fitted pleasantly towards the end of the set. 

Let’s forget about the music for a moment, I just wanted to say how wonderful Phi’s interaction with the audience was. “Does anybody like Dragonflies? What about Dragonfly Medicine?” I think that’s Phi in a nutshell… random and weirdly wonderful. ‘Cause let’s be honest… only Phi would write a song about Dragonfly Medicine. It’s the second song of the new double album and it’s everything you want in an instrumental. The rhythm is strange and out of this world. It’s Lalle and Andy the audience are watching in complete awe for this track. Both dominated the rhythm and showed the song who’s boss. 

“Down from the Mountain” is a stand out track on Phi’s latest album, which featuring vocals from Phi, plus Mirron in the choruses making the section more noticeable and strong. The song deals with isolation and to not get stuck in your head. The lyrics are quite dark for such a happy sounding song. It’s the rhythm of the vocals over the lyrics that stand out to me as a songwriter. It’s imaginative and a different way to deliver vocals successfully. Next up in the live set just happens to be the very last song on the double album “Reality Is My Strange Thing” which takes us through so many influences. There’s part where it sounds like a jazz standard, the next it’s an uptempo ska track. It’s completely and utter bonkers but so enjoyable to listen too. 

The ‘last’ song of the set, you know the one before people go “MORE” and the band have to do one more… just happened to be “Abigail’s Place.” Phi released Abigail’s Place 3 months prior to the album launch and I’m so glad he did, because everyone in the audience, I mean EVERYONE was singing “We’re going, we’re going, we’re going, we’re going to Abigail’s Place.” A memorable moment of the whole show. It’s always amazing when one song can bring so many people together for that special moment and that surely was a lovely moment. What made the show so amazing was watching the musicians on stage thoroughly enjoy the whole set and they were certainly in their element. 

And we then thought that was the end, until the roar of the audience shone through. Phi then exclaimed “well… we’ll do one more then.” Another interaction moment was when Phi got an audience member on the stage to begin the encore with “I want to tell you about the puffball that ate my village…” and with that one lyric, we all knew we were going on another adventure inside Phi’s head. It was like Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Gentle Giant and Gong just jammed on stage to create this circus sound. Before we knew it, the evening came to an end and I for one definitely could have listened to another hour’s worth of material. What a night.

When’s the next gig, Phi?

https://www.facebook.com/phiyaanzekmusic/

http://pyzmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HeyJesterBand/

Our Girl – Stranger Today (Review)

 

I’ve been waiting for Brighton based Our Girl’s debut album ever since I first heard of them back in November when I saw them support Marika Hackman. They blew me away from the first song they played. For a trio, they have such a big sound and Stranger Today just confirms that. I find it really interesting that this album features 6 out of 11 tracks that have been previously released, but hearing them in a new light, a fresh lick of paint and different type of production is extraordinary. With the album only been released 4 days ago, it’s already in the charts and giving the band the exposure that they truly deserve.

Filled with fuzz and adrenaline, “Our Girl” was the first song that lead vocalist and guitarist, Soph Nathan wrote. The band call this their theme tune because, well, they’re named after it, duh. The song is everything you want to hear for the first song of an album to be. It’s glued with happiness and a big sound that just keeps on travelling with every listen.  It’s one of those song that you notice something different about it every time you listen to it. With Bill Ryder Jones (The Coral) production and lead guitar on this song, it gives the song nostalgia feels to easier, happier times.

“Being Around” is a song that Our Girl fan’s know already as it was released on their first EP, and the production of this version compared to the other is considerably better. Comparing the both versions, the first version was far more noisier and not as clear as the album version, which you can hear all of the instruments in their own limelight. It draws subtle influences from The Breeders and Warpaint, but still owning their sound.

Bass and drums driven, “In My Head” tells the story of how we all wish sometimes that people could understand us more and how it would be easier if they took a trip in our own heads. Rhythmically, this song just automatically makes you shake your hips and want to dance. With a catchy chorus and contagious harmonies, In My Head is a stand out track on the album. To make it even more of a clever song, it speeds up making it sound experimental and a huge song to listen to live. Just imagine the mosh pit at the end of this track live…

“I Really Like It” is about Soph’s girlfriend while they made the “friends to more than friends” move. The emotion of this song makes it a crowd pleaser because even though some people don’t like to admit it, love is amazing and overwhelming and when you’re in it, it really is the best thing in the world. This is probably the most pop orientated song on the album as the structure is fairly simple and easy to listen too. Just over half way, the song takes a turn to an instrumental break with a memorable guitar fuzz trip taking us back into a type of pre chorus before reaching the final chorus.

A new song for Our Girl listeners is “Josephine” and it’s instantly a new favourite of mine. Beginning with bass and an amazing guitar strain that sends shivers down your spine, you know this song is going to be special. Musically, it’s what we’ve been waiting for, a 90’s grunge Sonic Youth drowsiness. The layering of guitar noises over rhythmical, wonderful guitar chords adds this draining feeling to the song that’s just so deep and meaningful to listen too. The song is about making up in a relationship and getting back together. It’s hard and a punch in the heart when a relationship ends but there’s something that sticks out to me that makes me think that they WILL get back together. When Soph sings “and I’m loving you, always” she ends always in a major key which is a sign that things could look up and be hopeful, whereas the music still feels like you want to bury yourself in a hole over heartbreak. Just over halfway, we’re took into the beyond of what feels like a never-ending battle of trying to feel better. With the guitar sounding in pain when it exclaims with the guitar effects, this song is creepy in the most magical way possible.

“Two Life” is another previous Our Girl song that we’re familiar with. Our Girl are probably most memorable for their great, guitar melodies and Two Life demonstrates this. Every song so far has built to this big, explosive part and has not let us down. The instrumental part of Two Life is in your face and there’s no ignoring it. It’s everything you want for a wild, alternative rock band. Soph said in a previous interview with Clash Magazine, that Bill created the weird, guitar parts by rubbing a screwdriver over the guitar, while it was drowned in fuzz and distortion. Genius. This track just shows that the band bounce off each other and influenced by one another to create this exciting sound for us. The aggression and walls of sound are just complete fire.

One of the first single Our Girl released 3 years ago is a lovely song called “Level.”  Honestly, it has come such a long way since then. Soph’s breath like vocals are sensitive and addicted to listen to as they just draw you in. Level is about an important relationship of Soph’s collapsing. She wrote a lot of songs on this album about that experience. She lived opposite a park called the Level, hence the title of the track. It’s a very natural song that seems to be a huge hit for Our Girl. Level was the track that drew me into Our Girl’s music when I saw them back in November. The off putting-ness of the guitar chords in the verses leave you tense and nervous, but the chorus reassures you and makes you believe things will get better. The guitar bends and tones remind me of the same tone that James Wilsey used on the hit Chris Isaak track “Wicked Game.” Important song for the album as it features the title “I told a stranger today…”

“Sub Rosa” is still and calm. It aches in exhaustion and depression. As much as a sad song is dark, gloomy and some people don’t like to hear them, it’s what the album needed. Most of the tracks are upbeat and filled with loud, beast like guitar riffs, so hearing Sub Rosa calms us and let’s you take a deep breath for maybe more aggression is to come. The natural reverb on the drums adds this really mysterious atmosphere to the track. Sub Rosa means something that’s done in secret, meaning that the song is a lot darker than we though. Perhaps its leaning towards a relationship that’s on the edge of breaking up and one of them is hiding something dark.

Next is a grunge ballad about wanting a bit more time. Sunday’s are known for most people to be a day of rest and sometimes a bit depressing, which mirrors perfectly in “I Wish it Was Sunday.” Let’s be honest, the cheeky little guitar riff in this just makes it a whole other level. It’s like Jack White just randomly showed up at the studio that Our Girl were recording at and grabbed a guitar. Musically, the song has a Garbage type of melancholy arrangement but has the excitement of shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine brought with Only Shallow. We really hear Soph get aggressive with her vocals in this song exclaiming “my heart.” The ending was definitely needed. Everything cuts out and 3 vocals interrupt with one of the hook lines “stained with sleep, I couldn’t feel my feet, the light was perfect.”

Jazz inspired chords fill this lonely song with panic before reassurance cools down the “Heat.” A shadow of reverb hits you hard with the simplicity of the song, but shows how complex it is with the difficult guitar riff taking us into a big space of what feels like a confused brain, before bringing us back into the safe haven of the second verse. The guitar work is very Jeff Buckley inspired, whereas the vocals are completely just Soph at possibly, one of her best vocals takes on the album. Heat is a perfect conclusion to panic. Anxious people get flustered and hot when they’re alarmed.

The last track on the album is filled with layers of wonderful things. It’s like they made “Boring” like a cake and just put all the best ingredients into it, including; clever guitar melodies, soft harmonies, loose bass lines, hard drums and they’ve mixed it all with their shoegaze-fuzz. As it hits 3:36, the song goes into an almost 3 minutes of what feels like an impromptu jam session, in a weird african rhythm, that’s only contagious to dance too. The song builds to this huge ending. A big ball of noise is made that’s filled with passion, before coming to a close of a truly, fantastic debut album from Our Girl.

Favourite Tracks: Our Girl, Being Around, In My Head, Josephine, Two Life, Level, I Wish It Was Sunday, Heat, Boring

Score: 9/10

 

Valerio Lysander- We Are Like Coloured Moths Towards the Sunlight (Review)

Released on the 21st July, I’m finally getting round to reviewing Valerio Lysander’s wonderful album. The album was recorded in various locations across Rome and London with influences from Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor and Sufjan Stevens to name a few. A little bit about Valerio first is that he’s a British based Italian artist who has performed all over Europe. He situates in the genres Baroque Pop, Indie Folk & Art Rock. Having performed at events for Pride, his music is travelling across the world and I’m so glad because it’s captivating. Are you ready for a rollercoaster ride?

First track on the album, “The Moon” tells a story about nobody understanding you and feeling a bit lost with what to do. Then you realise, why not just be like the moon? The moon’s main purpose is to give light in the darkness and that’s exactly what Valerio does with this song. He turns a negative feeling into a positive, metaphorically including the moon as his example. The production of the piano mixed with the string instruments; cello and violin, create this warm, historic moment for the start of what seems to be an emotional album.

When a relationship ends, it’s the hardest thing on earth. Valerio mirrors this emotion in “Feathers,” which is about struggling to keep a long distance relationship working when its actually run it’s course. The delicateness of Valerio’s voice pours out despair of his loss. The clever chord changes echo how things can change so quickly in a relationship and how even a feather can cause a tsunami effect, in other words, similar to the butterfly effect. 

“If you Were Me You Would Be” tells the struggles of an independent musician and I can relate so much. With lyrics such as “this isn’t magic, I spent money and time on this” explaining that as a musician, people expect things will just happen when really, it’s the biggest task of all to puzzle everything together on your own. This song deals with, you could say, two Valerio’s (one being the backing vocals), the man vocal is being positive and strong, whereas the second Valerio is being slightly more, well, like the voice in your head. The song is humorous and takes us through a waltzed arrangement. Quirky music video too.

Next is a very gentle number about The Great Gatsby. “A Little Fast” has a drowsy momentum which compliments the anxiety of the song perfectly. This track also features the album title “We Are Like Coloured Mothers Towards the Sunlight.” I personally really like when a song features “we” so as the listeners, we can relate with the music. This slow number is a tear-jerker and hits you right in the feels. Beautiful.

Success is a hard thing to achieve, everyone’s perspective on it is different too and I think we all realise that. Valerio certainly does in “The Prince.” This track is a little bit different compared to everything we’ve heard so far. It features interesting vocal phrases, complicated chord progressions and subtle but haunting harmonies. The song is upbeat and really blesses ”world” music, showing another influence in Valerio’s music.

“Comme Une Rivière” means like a river. Yes, this song is in French. What can Valerio NOT do? I can picture this song being in a cinematic, award-winning film just like Into the Wild or something. It’s absolutely stunning. The song deals with the difficulties a person gets when taking their first few steps towards reaching their dream. This whole song was just like living in a dream. The simplicity, the note perfect essence and atmosphere it gives off is absolutely spine tingling.

It’s always hard to define yourself and figure out who you are as a person. “Cotton” deals with the complications of this. We live in a world full of labels that put us into categories, that some of us don’t like, unfortunately. Cotton is the longest track on the entire album and in my eyes, it’s probably the most powerful one of all too. The music video is wonderful, featuring many faces of different colours, all colours then are blended onto Valerio’s. The song aches in troubles of conflicts and desire to make a statement with yourself.

“Ryan” is a fun, pop inspired composition reminding me slightly of a Mika style arrangement mixed with Brendon Urie-esque vocals. The song simulates the feeling of being stuck in the friend zone by someone you really like. It’s an amusing song with the last lyric cementing this in stone… “Would you please reply to my text… bitch.” “I’m Screwed” is another entertaining song with the first line plummeting “why do I keep falling like a dickhead?” The song is about liking someone out of boredom. We all have been there, where we are head over heels for that one person and you get a bit, blinded by love. When that bubble pops though, you release (if it wasn’t the person you’re “destined”  to be with) that you were an idiot. The song gives off an aura that Valerio is a bit of a stressful person and overthinks, but I guess, who doesn’t?

Another song about success is “Little People.” You mustn’t forget your purpose when trying to reach your goal, and that’s where people fall sometimes. They forget why they’re doing something or even just lose the passion and that’s life unfortunately, it throws weird and hard obstacles at us all the time. The song is inspired by Mozart’s Sonata in F Major. This classical influence from Mozart shines all throughout the song and adds a pleasant nostalgic feeling to the song.

“Fools” was apparently a failed christmas song that turned into a song about how the only thing in life that’s guaranteed is death. It’s morbid and upsetting to think of, but true. “Will there ever be one time, when we feel complete inside?” is an excruciating lyric, because it’s 100% right. We all worry about things and at the end of the day, they won’t matter when we’re gone. I feel that a lot of people don’t think of death enough, the best way to think about it, is to accept it, because there’s no getting out of it. If people get worried about death, there’s a famous quote that can help …

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Mark Twain

The second to last track, “Hymn” is a solo, piano song that Valerio plays with meaning. The theme is to be true to yourself and learning from your mistakes, plus accepting them. The track showcases Valerio’s vocal range reaching from high to low within a matter of seconds. The man lives for his music and it’s so amazing to hear.

“Le Stelle De Lu Cielu” is a traditional song from Rome which is a truly mesmerizing end to an exceptional album. To make things even more emotional, Valerio added a new verse into the song dedicated to his mother who sadly passed away in July 2017. I know for a fact, she’s looking down and feeling so proud of her son for releasing a truly, personal, heart-wrenching album.

Favourite Tracks: The Moon, Feathers, A Little Fast, Comme Une Rivière, Cotton, Fools, Le Stelle De Lu Cielu.
Score: 8/10

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