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

 

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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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Jeff Buckley – Grace (Review)

In my eyes, “Grace” is the best album of all time. Without Grace, my life would be so much more different to how it is now. When I first found Jeff Buckley’s music, it turned my life completely around and made me realise how much music means to me. It really opened my eyes to how much I want a career in music. There’s not really a day that goes by when I don’t listen to at least one song off Grace. Jeff has been my biggest inspiration in songwriting for about 4 years now and there’s so many things that I would have loved to ask him. He left this world far too soon and there will never be another artist like him.

“Mojo Pin” starts with angelic vocals from Jeff which makes us feel that this could be a perfectly soft song. When the percussion is slowly but surely added, the tension starts rising to make the audience believe “hey… this isn’t going to be soft at all, is it?” The lyrics explain a feeling of addiction, to either drugs or a person. Jeff also indicated once that the song was about a dream he had about a black woman. He also apparently invented the term “Mojo Pin” which makes it clear that it’s when you inject drugs into your arm. I feel if anxiety or even bipolar had a sound, it would be this song. The dynamics are constantly shifting up and down, whereas the vocals gradually build all the way through to the end with this refreshing power from Jeff. I personally feel that the song could be took in an unusual way too, perhaps Jeff was actually addicted to a person? He definitely wasn’t a drug addict or alcoholic, if he was ever addicted to something, it would have been love or music. As the song proceeds, it builds up making it sound that Jeff was getting frustrated with love for this woman. For such a gentle start to the album, Mojo Pin is simply put as an iconic song for Jeff. It showcases that he could be so soft and caring, but really show he meant business when he screamed of his pain at the same time.

I’ve always loved the imperfections of Jeff’s work, he never aimed to have things perfectly in time or sang correctly, he just performed the music to how it should be done, by felt. After the second chorus, a free, messy, jazz-fusion jam enters that’s totally unexpected but without it, the song wouldn’t have that tension yearning for release. As the jam comes to an end, we’re comforted by Jeff’s angelic vocals, singing a soft, melodic line that just sends shivers down my spine. Through Mojo Pin, it’s Jeff’s voice that just stuns the whole performance to make it such an amazing start to a debut album. The use of drug imagery in this song is so delicate and painful that it makes the audience feel like we’re on drugs too. Jeff’s love for this woman makes us feel that Jeff felt his problems would go away if he had love in his life. The change of rhythm from mid-beat to upbeat could prove more of his frustration for love. “The white horses flow, memories fire, the rhythms fall slow, black beauty I love you so” is a much deeper lyric than it sounds. White horse is another name for Heroin, Heroin affects your “memories”, and makes your heart beat slow. Plus black beauty is another word for speed. Like I said, his imagery of drugs is painfully amazing. It’s dark, twisted & stunning.

The title track, “Grace” was originally an instrumental song written by Gary Lucas and Jeff added the vocal melody and lyrics. The song begins with a complex guitar hook that’s memorable and is all about the rhythm more than the notes. It twinkles brightly and gives across a romantic vibe that makes you long for love too. The song is in the key of E minor, but uses chords that aren’t found in that scale, which makes the song sound hard to recognise what key it is actually in. Jeff wrote the lyrics inspired by saying goodbye to his girlfriend at an airport in the rain. The song is more about not feeling bad about yourself when you have true love by your side. Grace is about keeping alive and staying true to yourself even when you feel things may be going bad. Grace was the first Jeff Buckley song I ever listened too and it holds a very special place in my heart. “There’s the moon asking to stay” is terribly sad, as asking to stay could imply that death is sometimes closer than we think. “Long enough for the clouds to fly me away” indicates flying away to heaven. You could say that Jeff turned a negative feeling into a positive healing. “Well it’s my time coming, I’m not afraid, afraid to die”… I really hope that lyric was true.

In the second verse, Jeff’s guitar is in counterpoint with his lyrics “but she cries to the clicking of time, oh time” to add effect to the clicking of time. Another great thing about Jeff was that he was so intelligent too, he knew exactly how he wanted his songs to sound. Later in the song, it seems that he’s singing about drowning: “I feel them drown my name, so easy to know and forget with this kiss, I’m not afraid to go, but it goes so slow.” This is so upsetting, as that’s the way Jeff left us. The choruses famous “wait in the fire” is linked to a Sufi idea which isn’t surprising as Jeff loved Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The Sufi’s often said that their love for God is like a fire that cleanses the soul. I must say that the vocal power in Grace is the one thing that just leaves me speechless every time I hear it. Jeff literally just screamed this one note for over 10 seconds, ending the vocal phrase with an even higher note. It showcases that he really was one of the best vocalists of all time with his range just frying my brain. The instrumentation of the song keeps the same chilling emotion throughout with the instruments sometimes making inhumane noises that sound like things that might linger in hell. I completely love the message that Jeff gave with this song. What’s the point in feeling scared of death? We know we will all become of it one day, but we’re living right now. Live here, in this moment, don’t long for death, because it will come eventually.

“Last Goodbye” starts with what sounds like it’s going to be a heavy, country rock song. The bass line plays what could be a vocal line or potentially a riff, but before to long, the drums indicate a new section of the song featuring a more acoustic chilled vibe before taking it back to the bass riff. When the song starts properly after the interesting introduction, it’s slightly less interesting to what we would have hoped for. The song is about a man who’s in love with a woman but still breaks things off with her for no reason at all, possibly feeling that he isn’t up to her expectations. I feel with the orchestral instruments on this song, it makes it sound like something that Page and Plant would have performed on their 1994 No Quarter tour. It’s a stunning arrangement, but it doesn’t feel as big as the first two songs on the album. It’s a love ballad prominently, Jeff definitely did have a lot of emotions to get out about love, which makes me feel sad, maybe he took most of it to the grave? The song features segments throughout of hard rock layers that causes more tension for the song. I really like how this song doesn’t really have a chorus, it just has the main hook line, which is short, sweet but still memorable. Overall, the song deals with feeling good about a break up but slowly regretting it.

The next track is the first of the three covers on Grace, “Lilac Wine.” Written by James Shelton, Jeff’s version is drowned in a delicious reverb that doesn’t have a strong delay to it either. It’s spacious, stunning and free. The lyrics are kindled around heartache of losing a lover and taking to drinking wine made from a lilac tree. It’s a mellow, pop ballad that completely drifts you off to another planet. I love the short silences in this song which creates a dynamic, tensed shift. Jeff certainly made everything his own. If you haven’t heard already, he did a cover of an old jazz song called Strange Fruit and it’s completely mesmerizing.

An elegant, guitar sequence is played at the beginning of “So Real” and then falls into a minor chord indicating the entrance to the first verse. So Real is a personal favourite of mine as it takes you through a dark mellow rollercoaster of isolation and love. This song could be the aftermath of Last Goodbye (the break up) and now living with the regret of ending a relationship that was actually good. “And I couldn’t awake from this nightmare, it sucked me in and pulled me under” is a horrific lyric about being fearful of drowning. Jeff Buckley fans always find it hard to listen to certain lyrics and that’s definitely one of them. As we get to the half way mark of the song, we get to a section that’s so scary. Jeff had a few songs in with sections that sounded exactly like monsters stalking earth for their prey.

I completely believe that with this song in particular, you have to be in a mind-set to listen to it to fully understand it. One time, I listened to the scary section and wasn’t in a listening mindset and ended up hearing a lawn mower which ruined that part for me for a short while. What I’m trying to say is, give that section a chance, you’ll even be petrified of it or find it funny, there’s not really an in-between. As the section comes to a close, everything goes silent, before Jeff enters with “I love you, but I’m afraid to love you.” The instruments start again but slightly slower than before, but the pace gradually picks up again. The song is truly stunning, the instrumentation is beautiful, but with the lyrics as a combination, it becomes a cry for help. The lyrics and music compliment each other so nicely that it leaves you completely stunned of what’s just happened after listening to it. Jeff’s vocal performance towards the end of the song becomes so historic that it leaves me with goosebumps every time I hear it. The song is completely real and the atmosphere brought to it is nerve-wracking. It’s lonely and isolated to the point where it makes you feel uneasy when listening to it alone. Jeff’s vocal ability always managed to reassure the listeners that everything’s going to be ok.

The most famous track in Jeff’s discography just happens to be a cover and the most beautiful cover to ever be released? It could well be. The sigh at the beginning of “Hallelujah” is so powerful yet so questionable. Why’s it there for? To mark a hard song is ahead? Possibly. That’s one thing that will be left untold. The song was written by Leonard Cohen who passed away in 2016, and it’s about a love which has gone stale and out of date. Cohen used a lot of religious imagery, referring to the bible. It also refers to how this woman is in charge of her man and that he can’t take control because of her feminine features. The whole performance by Jeff is purely electric guitar and vocals, it sure does keep you captivated the whole way through. The guitar work is intricate and states another argument… could Jeff Buckley have been one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived too? He could well be. Before the last verse, Jeff takes us into an instrumental break before ending the song dynamically powerful. He didn’t scream the vocals, but he did shout a bit to get his message across before ending with his pure angelic vocals. The longest track on the album at 6:52, and it’s definitely not a track that you’ll be skipping anytime soon. Jeff’s version makes the song of praise into a yearning for acceptance track. It gives the same simplicity of Lilac Wine does, but this cover is so raw that it leaves you cold and wanting warmth by listening to it on repeat.

Jeff realised and finally understood, that his life was full of failed relationships. In “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over”, he recognised that he had been too immature in a relationship, but figured out the girl he broke up with could have actually been the “one.” The song is entered with what sounds like interference before an accordion plays an irish style folk melody or something that you’d hear in a church. I think that Grace could be took as a love, concept album that deals with the processes of love – love, heartbreak, immaturity, regret to name a few. The most precious thing about Jeff was his originality. There was no one like him before and there will never be anyone like him again. He had influences and inspirations obviously, from Led Zeppelin, Django Reinhardt, but he shined through with his own sound which inspired many people around the world and still does do this day. The song takes us through a long, hard battle as she didn’t come over like he wanted her too, but if she ever was too, he would have always welcomed her back in open arms. If he was still alive today and she came back, maybe that would have had a long, happy life together. It’s so upsetting and heartbreaking to think what if.

The song has been covered by Jamie Cullum, John Mayer and Matt Corby to name a few, who all have Jeff Buckley as a strong influence in their music, especially Matt Corby. I’d personally say that this song isn’t quite up there with all the others on the album, but it still is in its own league. It’s important on this album because it keeps the love process, concept, real. No matter what we go through, we all have heart-break eventually, maybe that’s not necessarily a relationship breaking up, it’s the loss of someone. I couldn’t imagine what Jeff’s family felt like when he unexpectedly passed away.

“Corpus Christi Carol” is the last cover on the album and it’s a hymn from 1504, which Jeff sings completely like an angel. Jeff once said that the song is about a fairytale about a falcon who takes the singers love to an orchard. The singer goes searching for her and arrives at a chamber where his love lies next to a knight who’s bleeding, with a tomb next to him with Christ’s body in it. It’s a pretty dark song that sounds so beautiful from Jeff’s vocals which is blinding us of what’s actually happening. The song is the shortest track on the album at 2:57 and critics have said before “What’s the point of it even being on here?” but without it, we wouldn’t have heard Jeff’s vocal range took to a whole new level. I’m sure if anyone else in the 1990’s took a hymn like this, recorded it and put it on their album, they wouldn’t have pulled it off, but because Jeff was always on his own level and didn’t ever care what others thought, he pulled it off brilliantly.

The second to last track on the album, “Eternal Life” has been said to be heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin, but Jeff had his own refreshing sound that still sounds new after over 20 years later. The song is mainly about anger and that life’s way to short to care about what others think of you, your colour, religious beliefs etc. We are all different, let’s just except that. You can take this song as a protest song to be honest, because Jeff stood up for what he believed in and believed that everyone was unique in their own way. The main lyric that stands out to me is “There’s no time for hatred, only questions, where is love? where is happiness? what is life? where is peace?” which indicates that the only thing we see in the media is fear. We never see the happy. Jeff tried to get the message across that people need to be asking the questions he stated. What is life? What is the purpose of life if there’s no love or happiness? Still to this day, that message is so important. I wish more people would listen to Jeff and especially this song to understand that yes, it’s ok to not be ok, but question yourself more about the things that you do.

It’s political, but not in the aspect that he’s saying “you should vote for this person” which I adore. I don’t really like when artists state who to vote for and who to like, when again, we all have our own opinions so let’s stick to them and not follow what others think. As the song is angry, I really love how Jeff and his band let rip and let loose in this song. It’s an iconic moment for the Grace album. This track is quite Nirvana esque too. 

The last track on what is the most important album to ever exist to me is “Dream Brother.” The guitar refrain is quite a simple melody that doesn’t sound as original as I hoped it would have been when I first heard it, but it’s still so effective. The song was written by Jeff, bassist Mick and drummer Matt, and it was written about a friend of theirs, Chris Dowd, urging him to not walk out on his girlfriend who was pregnant at the time (which Jeff’s dad Tim Buckley did to him.) The song is quite moody and is definitely the definition of a 90’s indie track. The song is quite experimental too and a strong one in Jeff’s small catalogue. I must say though, for it being the last track on the album, it doesn’t really give off a happy send off, but it definitely leaves you wanting more songs. Which we never really got or never will get… It’s a deep and meaningful album that leaves us wanting to know answers. Plus, it’s an emotional goodbye to the legend that is, Jeff Buckley.

Grace will always hold a special place in my heart, as will Jeff Buckley entirely. The album captivates me from start to finish every time I listen to it. Wanting more and knowing there will never be anymore, makes Grace more special.

We miss you Jeff, hope you’re taking it easy wherever you are.

(This review is of the original track listing – Forget Her was released in 2004 on the 10 year anniversary of Grace reissue.)
Favourite Tracks: Mojo Pin, Grace, Last Goodbye, Lilac Wine, So Real, Hallelujah, Eternal Life, Dream Brother.

Score: 10/10

TAMSYN – Dirt (Single Review)

Being featured on BBC Introducing is always a great step into the music industry, and the boys of TAMSYN have done just that. The indie rock band from Manchester have been on the circuit for over 2 years now and have already released a debut EP plus a couple of single. Their new track “Dirt” is being released on May 7th onto iTunes and Spotify, plus it will have it’s own music video too. The track is being released as a single to begin hype for their second EP “If I Didn’t Love Trouble Then I Wouldn’t Love You” due for release later this year.

The song deals with living with mistakes of the past. The opening lyric “if you keep digging up the past, it’s going to bury you” is really an eye opener that will make you stop in your tracks and question your own past. It’s completely true, if you keep digging up the past, it will eventually bury you and you’ll be back to how you were before. Every situation is different though and sometimes bringing up the past can be a good thing, it all depends on the situation. The main vocal line of Dirt is constantly catching your attention, and after hearing it for the first time, it’s now stuck in my head. Having a memorable part to any song is always a clever idea to capture the audience.

The most prominent part has to be the chorus lyric; Roses grown from dirt” and what a deep lyric that is. It’s a metaphor that’s simply put as, everyone has imperfections (being the dirt) but even your negatives can turn into positives, being the roses in this case. It could also be linked in with mental health, the dirt meaning anxiety or depression for example, and even though its such a dark thing to go through, it can make you stronger in the long run which links back to the beautiful essence of roses.

The instrumentation of the song is fairly simple, especially the drums and bass, but it really captures the elements of the indie-pop track. I really like how the vocals aren’t as powerful until near the ending and it really brings the dynamics of the song to the peak moment. The tone of the guitars is raw and vintage sounding, making it sound like a 1970’s tone but on a modern-day track. This is the first song that I heard in TAMSYN’s discography, and I’m liking their charisma, tone’s and vibes. All in all, great track.

Score: 3/5

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Phil Matthews (The Village) – Carnival of Fools (Review)

Phil Matthews aka The Village released his Carnival of Fools album back in 2017. With elements of traditional folk music and americana, Phil has built up a fan base around the Midlands. With influences from The Beatles to the Beach Boys, The Village’s music is known to be a magical place for outsiders and oddballs. The album features tracks, “The Secret Garden” which he wrote in 1983. 35 years later and it was Number 1 in the N1M British Folk Rock Chart. Success isn’t necessarily selling a million copies of your music, it can be the little, yet effective things too. Phil records everything himself in the studio, but live he sometimes plays with Mr Hugh. 

The album is kicked off with a track called “Voodoo Skull.” Instantly I feel this track is heavily influenced by the 1960’s hippie moment. The song is drowning in chorus effects and upbeat guitar parts. The percussion is fairly simple and isn’t quite mixed perfectly in the production, but it definitely give the track a more raw sound. “Voodoo” is related to Africa Religion, and I can definitely hear an African influence from the percussion beat and chromatic guitar parts that goes down on the last line of each verse and chorus. Having a Voodoo Skull could mean that he has a spiritual mind, but skulls are usually best described with life and death, so it’s probably more about that. The song overall sounds retro and vintage.

A place where nothing happens is exactly what “Nothing Happens Here” is about. The tambourine in the chorus isn’t quite mixed right into the production, and it seems much louder than the vocals which is quite off-putting. The vocals sound similar to an effect that was used on some of The Beatles songs. You can definitely hear Phil’s influenced with this song with his vocals sounding very similar to John Lennon. The song deals with regret and loss, but the lyric, “we learn as we grow old” tells us that time is a healer and with time, we recover eventually.

The guitar soloing on Princess of the May seems a bit forced and too in your face, I feel it could have worked a lot better if it was more loose. It’s another nostalgic song, that longs for the good times again. “Look at photographs, remembering, sadly smiles” is a really emotional lyric, but the emotion doesn’t really pour through as well as I’d have hoped with this emotional song of wishing to be young again. I really do like the lyrics though and think there’s some lovely moments shone through this song to make it warming.

“Muses” tells a little story about John Lennon’s “Lucy” known for being “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” There’s also references in this song to Gone with the Wind and Cider with Rosie. A great song lyrically and it’s put together really nicely. The mix sounds unfinished, but I think that’s the personal sound that Phil wanted for his album, which is completely a fair choice. As we all know, everyone’s entitled to their own personal views and opinion. The clever lyrics of this track makes the song feel that the person that Phil’s singing about is angelic, and a wonderful person that he admires.

Next is “Always on My Mind” which has been featured on the folk charts and a well deserved track too. I’m getting vibes off the instruments that sound similar to when Lynyrd Skynyrd used to chill out with their acoustic guitars. The song is slightly more pop orientated through the lyrics than the other songs, which makes it more of a popular song in Phil’s discography overall. The song is in a minor key with powerful, love lyrics on top, which is always a pleasure with any audience. “Any my aching heart I must keep in the dark, And never let you know I care” deals with not wanting to show affection, but no matter what, this person is always on his mind.

“Last Train Home” is the only instrumental track on the album, and it’s a strong folk ballad. Getting a title for an instrumental song can be difficult because sometimes artists just get the music all down, but they’re not really sure what the inspiration behind it was. This song isn’t perfect as there’s some timing issues here and there, but the imperfections really make the song work so well. The subject behind this track is waiting on a platform, waiting for the last train home. Going home after a long day is always bliss, so I think that’s what Phil wanted his song to emulate. It’s a happy journey to a happy destination. There’s quite a few instruments on this, and they’re all playing similar things which sounds slightly messy at times. This could empathise the thoughts you get on your last train home. The song ends with a blow of a whistle to indicate, perhaps, we’re home.

Simplicity is all you need sometimes and that’s certainly what we get with “Seeking Clues.” It starts with what sounds like a banging on the door, before guitar is entered with a melodic riff. This is another track that feels a bit forced and doesn’t flow as nice and I would have liked. I’ve noticed Phil’s songs are similar structures of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. The track features a mini guitar solo which sounds very similar to the melodic riff that is in too. Simple chord, simple music, simple song.

Phil definitely has his own style and doesn’t really go out of the specific folk genre. You can hear he’s influenced by classic pop music too. The organ in the next track is situated in the background, and it gives a fresh bright sound to the thumping that is “For Am I So Old (And I Have Seen the Sky.) The guitar follows the vocal line towards the end of the song which is a bit generic but it does work quite well.

Most of Phil’s songs features the title in the song, but “The Secret Garden” doesn’t. We instantly know what the Secret Garden feels like. A place where you can go to when you feel lonely. It’s a very short, but sweet song that’s one of the catchiest tracks on the album. The mix is produced a lot better than some of the other tracks on the album making it have a bigger, fresh sound to it, but still creating the 1960’s nostalgic essence.

The last track on the album is also the title track; “Carnival of Fools.” It’s upbeat and deals with people who don’t believe in evolution and that the world is flat as the lyric “Don’t you think that the world is flat? Maybe they never told you that, They’ll promise evolution does not exist, Carnival of fools, flick of the wrist” indicates. The flick of the wrist could simply mean that he’s shooing the people away because he thinks they’re ridiculous. This song seems more political than some other with the chorus being “cats and dogs don’t create their own gods, yet man’s the only one to start a war.”  It’s simple but effect drum beat is easy to clap along too. I can only guess that this is one of Phil’s best tracks in all of his discography that he plays lives, because it can really get an audience involved.

Overall, I like how the album is nostalgic and gives me visions of what the 1960’s was like. I always thought I was born in the wrong era, I’m glad I wasn’t as I can hear all the music that’s been released. Lovely work from Phil and he’s definitely gained a fan through me.

Favourite Tracks: Voodoo Skull, Nothing Happens Here, Muses, The Secret Garden, Carnival of Fools
Score: 6/10

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Hush Mozey – Tales of Bigotry (EP Review)

Being their debut release, “Tales of Bigotry” is a strong EP for Hush Mozey and they definitely should be ready for their future, because through my eyes, it seems pretty bright. Their music delivers influences from punk, grunge, ska and “drowsy rock and roll.” The Bristol based band have grown a following and have even took to the stage at Y-Not Fest and Truck Fest. Their latest release, which dropped on the 24th March, has been a success so far and I hope the band all the best of luck with whats to come too.

The EP’s kicked off with the gloomy, treble, dark bass line in “Moroccan Treasure” with bright, delicate guitar parts too. The guitars are somewhat powerful, not dynamically, but more emotionally than anything else. A tremolo effect on the guitar (more obvious towards the end of the song) adds company to the bizarre song. The song is about living a life of luxury with the person you admire/love. I could be wrong, but that’s what the song feels like to me. It’s sleazy, heavily blues influenced but quirky and fun.

“A Place For Them” was released as a single before the EP was released and they released a music video for it too (link below.) The song itself is witty, indie and reminds me a bit of The Coral. This song would fit perfectly in a musical about clowns or something like that. I feel it would fit really well in that dark scenery. Just over half way, the song goes into a sort of “ska section” with off beat guitar parts, giving the song a completely different feel and influence, until it goes back to the witty indie sound again. All I can think of with the meaning of this is “A Place for Them” could be where all the unusual people go to, to feel at home.

The vocals are quite lazy and careless, but it makes the song have its own chill, unique feel in “Burlesque.” It’s a real indie song with some hipster lyrics like “still sat here by my window, strike a Picasso pose, cigarette smoke.” Burlesque is really a soft song about being in love and showing affection. A melodic and chromatic guitar riff ends the song really nicely making the song dynamically end. As a whole, it sounds jazz influenced, but without the fancy chords. Hush Mozey really make their own sound with this track.

“Listen Learn” is an intimate song about love and affection again. It features a treble based bass part which is a similar bass tone to all the other tracks so far but with this song in particular sounding more distorted. Vocally, this is definitely the catchiest track so far with the lyric “none of this is new” being a main hook line. The guitar tones are really interesting and reminds me a bit of the “90’s Britpop sound.” Strong song with lovely backing vocals too.

The next track is the most political song on the record and proves a point that they’re anti conservative. Joe (frontman of Hush Mozey) talks about the people he cares about who have no money in “Paper People” whereas the “Tory Bastards” have all the money and are still not happy. I’m not very political and don’t really like showing my views publicly, but I definitely do understand that one of the best ways to show your views is through writing a song so fair play to the main lyricist of the band for writing a politically point. The song is heavily humour based as well with a main lyric “Hugo Boss was a nazi” leaving me with a bit of a smile and chuckle. The song is punk, maybe not Sex Pistols punk, but more Blink 182, and it even has hints of the Libertines. With the song being 2:07, it definitely feels like there should have been more.

Another rebellious attitude is shown in “Hideout” where Joe shares a wacky idea of shaving his head and wearing a dress, to prove a point and frighten the fainthearted? I think so. I really like the structure and instrumentation with the song, with the verses being really stripped back with a lo-fi guitar part accompanied by a subtle programmed drum beat. The pre choruses really do give the song a dynamic build into the choruses. Dynamically, the choruses are the peak of the song which is always what’s expected. Half way through, the song goes bare but only includes the bass laying down a quick riff with a few angelic vocals over the top of it. The ending of the song is really captivating and you can tell they’ve found their light as “they’ve found the hideout.”

The last track on the EP is the longest song off it too. Instrumentally, “One More Night” is jazz influenced with hints of the dark elements of Portishead. The vocalist of the band seems to have a voice very similar to Brian Molko (Placebo) which is unusual, but he really does bring his own uniqueness to the music. Three quarters through the track, we’re created with a soft blues guitar type solo which features a subtle delay to give the song even more of a heavenly jazz feel.

Hush Mozey are quirky and really make all their influences shine through their music. I’m looking forward to all of their other releases to come in the future. Plus I must say, the artwork for Tales of Bigotry is stunning and so unique.

Favourite Tracks: A Place For Them, Listen Learn, Hideout, One More Night
Score: 7/10

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Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists – The Broth (EP Review)

“The Broth” came out in July 2017 being Shaun Gambowl Walsh & the Plagiarists second release. Let’s just say, this band are not for the plain hearted, innocent people of the world. With their genre sitting comfortably in the space punk category, they’re known for causing controversy with their music. Bringing humour and explicit content into their lyrics, they scream with attitude. They call themselves “Britain’s most hated band,” but my goodness, they pull it off well.

We start the EP off with “The Broth.” A broth is known to be a soup consisting of ingredients cook in stock and that’s completely the song in a nutshell more a less. “Too many cooks spoil the broth, but many hands make light work” is the only lyric in the whole of the song. The song itself is spoken with two guys having a kind of argument about the “broth”. It’s an unusual song subject, but something about it works. Just before halfway through, the spoken word comes to a stand still and we’re then entered with a space like instrumental which reminds of how it feels to be stuck in a “daze.” Could this song be drug related? Perhaps… it can mean anything you want it to be. That’s the best thing with music, as Dave Grohl once said “You can sing a song to thousands of people, and they can sing it back to you with thousands of different meanings.”

“In Cahoots” starts with a minor riff that is quite creepy. Before watching the music video, I felt this song could be related to alcohol purely by the loose instrumentation to the song, and I was right. We all know the night before when you’re out drinking with your friends is usually a good night, but when we get too much alcohol in our system, some of us suffer big time the next. The video shows the band on what I could only imagine being a “binge.” “The past few days” lingers and is repeated constantly to begin with, this could show that the past few days have been feeling like they’ve gone round in circles. When the lyrics start coming in as a normal song, we’re introduced properly to the singer’s accent, which reminds me a bit of the West Midlands. The commonness of the voice really adds so much flavour to the song, making it drown in a “cool” attitude. “The drugs are on tap and the booze is flowing” completely confirms that the band are on a “binge.” As the song progresses, it gets heavier and simulates the “binge” dragging on with “tick tock” being said in the background of the music. With the song being 5:35, it’s quite a long track, but without it being so long, it wouldn’t like we’re in this “binge” ourselves. The weirdness of the song really captures what “paranoia” and even “anxiety” feels like.

The timing of the next song is quite off-putting, giving the song it’s on edge. “Research Chemical Generation” seems to be about society, maybe even the government, giving us things to try like “we’re the guinea pig population living in frustration and we seem to be bearing the brunt of it all.” I can completely get where they’re coming from and the message behind this track is really interesting. “Two headed Ted should be dead but now he’s a zombie instead” is a lyric that shows that society/the government really don’t care about us really. We could all die tomorrow and they would still think they’re doing a “good job.” The eerie timing of the song really makes it uneasy to listen to, but something about it just makes you keep listening. From 4:04, the song goes into what I could only imagine being a “cloud of smoke,” it’s eerie and seems to be the band’s “iconic part” to some of their tracks.

Well, we can all really here what they’re saying in “Who’s Scott Theket?”
This track is definitely the band bringing their drug humour side into their music, and it is kind of funny but very cringeworthy. This song is probably the most controversy of all the songs on the EP with the band sharing their politics views of Theresa May and also sharing explicit words. The voices are all over the place, but because the track is many about drugs, it works as a whole. You can hear their rebelling, punk nature come through. It’s a big “middle finger up” song.

The EP finishes with a ring tone from what sounds like a really, old brick phone with the singer replying to whoever’s on the phone “cool, I’ll be out in a sec.” The EP sounds rushed, but it works. This is the bands sound and I don’t know how they manage it, but they really do pull it off well.

Favourite Tracks: In Cahoots, Research Chemical Generation
Score: 6.5/10

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