Woodkid – The Golden Age [Review]

77784286

I was first introduced to the music of Woodkid on a trailer for the video game Assassin’s Creed Revelations; the sound was a perfect mix of polished pop, fused with a sophisticated orchestral sound. The Golden Age, Woodkid’s debut album follows a similar theme – creating a wholly cinematic experience.

It is no wonder that the music is so visual; the french musician behind the pseudonym WoodkidYoann Lemoine’s own path to music was first through graphic design then directing music videos for artists including Moby, Mystery Jets, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Drake and Rihanna. After being given a banjo by guitarist Richie Havens during a shoot the classically trained Lemoine decided to move in to making music full time and Woodkid was born. Continue reading

The Staves – Winter Trees [Watch]

The Staves Winter Trees

Directing duo Karni and Saul have collaborated with The Staves to create an absolutely stunning video for the first single from their debut album Dead & Born & Grow (November 2012). It’s wonderfully organic with a mix of techniques including hand drawn imagery and flash animation and gives a brilliant sense of depth and although the woodcut style is obviously an influence it apparently contains no stop-frame animation. It’s a very literal take on the subject and its beautiful animation and quirky characters are charming to behold.

The Staves are off on tour shortly with dates primarily across the UK, with a few European ones thrown in for good measure. Follow this link for a full list. Their debut is out now through Atlantic Records, available in all the usual places.

Sources: Creative Review Blog

Dirtwire – DIRTWIRE [Review]

While American blues and North African music, in particular the ‘Desert blues’ that has come out of Mali – probably best represented by the late legend Ali Farka Touré, are no stranger to each other it still sounds incredibly fresh to hear two continents influences collide with such graceful results. What Dirtwire, the duo David Satori (Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Hamsa Lila), have accomplished on their debut full length is not only beautifully composed but incredibly well executed with wide instrumentation and carefully considered orchestration. It’s not simply a mash up of music from across the world but a subtle and most importantly genuine sounding blend.

Western beats sit side by side with African live instrumentation, Banjo, harmonica, piano and even hints of dub basslines all come together but where Dirtwire excel here is not seeming to lean toward any one influence. What can begin as a very rough, Americana sound can soon be filled with North African vibes and flow effortlessly together. We’ve seen it before with other musicians but Dirtwire make it relevant to fans of western beat music and with an entirely instrumental take, if I didn’t know better I’d never have guessed their country of origin; which it turns out the pair met at the California Institute of the Arts where they studied World Music and Composition together. Skilled individuals no doubt but together they’ve really come up with something wonderful, lets hope to hear more from them in the future. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this album to someone who wanted an introduction to Desert Blues or North African blues generally.

DIRTWIRE is available to buy on bandcamp. It’s name your price so if you enjoy it, think about supporting the guys.

The Revival Hour – Hold Back [Listen]

Fresh back from a week spent exploring the rainy Cornish coast and I already have a pile of releases mounting on the side of my desk. Before beginning the trawl through the precarious mountain beside me and whilst doing my usual weekly round of bandcamp, I stumbled upon The Revival Hour and their outstanding debut single Hold Back / Run Away.

Hold Back is big in every sense of the word, opening line “I am the lonliest climber of them all” sets a brooding tone which continues through; combined with gospel backing, rising choruses, swelling strings, deep brass, staccato piano, D.M. Stith’s brilliant falsetto voice and finally complimented with some seriously smooth production and this track just begs to be played loud. It’s powerful stuff, full of soul and incredibly intense. Lyrics question and demand, “Am I right to hold back?”, as the song rises and builds into something really quite wonderful. It’s dark, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also crackling with suppressed energy. Bold stuf indeed.

The Revival Hour’s other half is completed by John Mark Lapham (The Earlies, The Late Cord) and with contributions from members of The Earlies, My Brightest Diamond and Shearwater, they are looking like they could become something really quite special. The single was released on 24th October of last year and after digging on facebook it appears the duo are working on release number two, a full length and a forthcoming tour. It couldn’t come soon enough as I can see myself exhausting this song pretty quickly if tonights play count is anything to go by!

Hold Back / Run Away is available to download for $2 (USD) from The Revival Hour’s bandcamp page.

Lilacs & Champagne [Review]

I think I’ve found my album of the year. Yup, I’m willing to crown it already. Lilacs & Champagne, Alex Hall and Emil Amos of instrumental rockers Grails, have managed to craft one of the most interesting and promising debuts I think I’ve ever heard. It’s a rich tapestry woven from samples and organic pieces strung together perfectly to create a sound that’s incredibly fresh.To put it crudely, if you take the Grails template from their recent efforts and give it a hip hop, sample focused twist, this is what you get.

Throughout it’s surprisingly short run-time there’s a real 70’s B-movie vibe, it’s a cool sound indeed with fuzzy warm production and interesting samples. As Grails fans will attest, the duo obviously aren’t afraid to bring in influences from over seas and this enhances the already broad spectrum to pull from with an eastern feel on many tracks. It’s psychedelic stuff; a broad collage of ideas and moments that never outstay their welcome, perhaps due to the length of the record, but either way one of Lilacs & Champagnes greatest strengths. There are some wonderful melodies here and the addition of vocals on Lilacs (check out the video below) and Battling The City really bring them to life. It’s these short bursts of brilliance that really help this debut shine, it really is a versatile record and for something that on paper sounds like it should never work Hall and Amos have really succeeded in pulling it together.

It’s colourful stuff and you’ll yearn for repeat listens in order to take it all in. It’s going to take something special to remove this from the top of my album of the year pedestal and I’m confident I’m not going to find anything like it for a while – if you can place something in front of me similar or better I challenge you.

Grails have been having some hard-drive issues recently and there was mention of the next Lilacs & Champagne record being on said hard-drive, we can only keep our fingers crossed it survives (along with the next Grails albums) as if it’s anything like this debut, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Tracklisting is as follows:

01 Everywhere, Everyone
02 Lilacs
03 Nice Man
04 Sensations
05 Battling The City
06 Corridors of Power II
07 King Of Kings
08 Laid Fucking Back
09 Moroccan Handjob
10 Midnight Creeper
11 Listener X

The album’s available from mexican summer on LP, CD and mp3.

Gem Club – Breakers [Review]

There are few albums that I would call truly beautiful, Helios’s Eingya and Gregor Samsa’s second full-length Rest spring to mind; and now, with Gem Club’s debut Breakers, Christopher Barnes, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Leva Berberian have crafted quite simply one of the most systematically heartbreaking, haunting and outright beautiful albums to have graced my system in a long time and it can comfortably sit within that list.

There’s an unbelievable subtlety to this album, it’s got room to breathe and every note written sounds considered and then considered again. Stripped to a combination of rhythmic piano, calming vocals and brooding cello it can feel incredibly pure. I hesitate to say it verges on bleak with an almost melancholy feel. Go into this album in an optimistic mood and I’m sure you will take a different view compared to heading in full of pessimism.

It can be a worry with music similar to this that it comes across as a pretentious wash of sound but Gem Club manage to hold their focus and the songs here bleed with emotion. Pacing is key and although this may not be an album for every moment of the day it’s one that’s of little effort to listen to and at just shy of fourty minutes is the perfect length, never outstaying it’s welcome. Drums punctuate at the right moment and vocals soar when needed, it’s smart stuff and works very well.

Penultimate track 252 are where things really gather together and show what Gem Club can really do. It’s beautiful, a little friendlier and stands out strong on an album of already stellar tracks. The vocals lift and there’s a warmth that fills the sound that isn’t present prior.

It’s a difficult thing to review this album without listing a string of adjectives revolving around the word beauty but at it’s core this is what Breakers delivers. It was never going to be an album for every moment of the day and that’s ok; it’s an album to slip some headphones on and simply listen to. Don’t let this one fall into the background, it yearns to be heard properly.

Head over to Gem Club’s bandcamp page for a full listen, like them on facebook or have a poke around their website iamgemclub.com.

The Four Owls – Burning Vapour [Video]

This is the new promotional video for UK hip-hop group The Four Owls – Burning Vapour, which is taken from their debut album Nature’s Greatest Mystery (Out now on High Focus Records – http://www.high-focus.com/home/ ).

Aside from the truly brilliant visuals (which are lifted from Blockheads video for ‘The Music Scene’) it’s a great track filled with jazzy samples and catchy melodies and well worth your time.